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&e Eitorfii&e press Cambridge 





(( NO VI 6 1966 


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DIED 26TH MARCH, 1882; 





The quotations given in the present book on page 106 of this 
volume and pages 65 and 433 of Volume II are either literally or 
substantially taken from a volume of Lay Sermons, called The 
Witness of God, by the late Professor T. H. Green. 







' They were walking down the Lime Walk of Trinity 
Gardens ; beneath their feet a yellow fresh strewn car- 
pet of leaves, brown interlacing branches overhead, 
and a red misty sun shining through the trunks.' 


The scene of Robert Elsmere's determination to devote 
himself to the ministry of the Church. ' One May even- 
ing he was wandering along the Towing-Path which 
skirts the upper river, a prey to many thoughts.' 


Behind the gardens of Christ Church College. ' " Have 
you any immediate plans?" said Mr. Grey, as they 
turned into the Broad Walk, now in the full leafage of 
June and rustling under the brisk western wind blow- 
ing from the river.' 


This view represents the stepping-stones over the 
Rotha River not far from Fox How, once the home of 
the famous Dr. Arnold of Rugby, Mrs. Ward's grand- 
father. Although the locality is not the same as that of 
the story, these stepping-stones were very familiar to 
Mrs. Ward's childhood and no doubt suggested to her 
the scene in the book. 


The northern end of the Long Sleddale Valley, West- 


A farmhouse in the hamlet now known as Sad Gill, at 
the northern end of the Long Sleddale Valley, West- 
moreland. The High Fell at the back of the house was 
the scene of the engagement -of Robert and Catherine. 
' She neared the bridge leading to the little hamlet be- 
yond which northward all was stony loneliness and 
desolation and saw in front of her the grey stone house 
backed by the sombre red of a great copper beech and 
overhung by crags.' 


The rectory of Peper Harow in Surrey, which Mrs. 
Ward leased for a summer. 'It was a square white 
house, pretending neither to beauty nor state, a little 
awkwardly and barely placed, with only a simple stretch 
of grass and a low hedge between it and the road. A 
few tall firs clinging above the roof gave a little grace 
and clothing to its southern side, and behind it there 
was a garden sloping softly down towards the village 
at its foot.' 


The church of Peper Harow in Surrey. 

All of the illustrations in this volume are photogravures, 
and except where otherwise stated are from photographs taken 
especially for this Edition. 


AFTER twenty-one years 'Robert Elsmere' is now to 
be reissued as the first instalment of this collected 
edition. During these years, something, probably, not 
very far short of a million copies of the work have 
been distributed in the English-speaking countries, 
and translations of it have appeared in most foreign 
languages. Its enemies and its friends agree in at- 
tributing to it a certain wide popular influence. 
It has been much written about, and a good deal 
preached against. Its circulation is still quite steady ; 
and two years ago if these details may be allowed 
me fifty thousand copies of a new cheap edition were 
sold in a fortnight, and a hundred thousand within 
the year. Fifteen years after its publication, M. Brune- 
tiere, the editor of the Revue des Deux Mondes, and, 
at the moment, the most important literary supporter 
of French Catholicism, began a negotiation with me 
for the appearance of a French translation of the 
whole or part of the book in the Revue; and when 
I asked him in astonishment how it could possibly 
suit him to entertain such a project, he replied that 
whereas in 1888 the ideas expressed in 'Robert Els- 
mere' could have had no interest for the public of the 
Revue, there was now so much affinity between them 
and the problems and debates which Modernism had 
[ xiii ] 


been forcing on French Catholicism that always 
supposing its length could be got over it had become 
worth his while to publish it. Its length could not be 
got over, and the project fell through. But the in- 
cident gave the writer of the story a very keen pleasure. 
For it seemed to show that, with all its many faults, 
'Robert Elsmere' had yet possessed a certain represent- 
ative and pioneering character ; and that to some ex- 
tent at least the generation in which it appeared had 
spoken through it. 

If then it had, or still has, this touch of repre- 
sentative significance, it will perhaps not be thought 
unseemly on my part if now, looking back twenty- 
one years, I try to trace some of the half-forgotten 
circumstances and influences that produced the book. 
In truth these circumstances and influences or their 
natural successors are still at work in this new cen- 
tury as they were in that which has just closed. 
'Modernism' is indeed a far more widespread and 
active force to-day throughout educated Europe than 
it was thirty years ago. If in the Church of England, 
at the present moment, Liberal thought has fewer 
distinguished and eloquent voices voices that have 
the ear of England than was the case a generation 
ago, Liberal influence is none the less diffusive, be- 
cause it has won so many victories that the field of 
controversy is both changed and narrowed.; while the 
emergence of Modernism in Roman Catholicism is a 
phenomenon so striking, and represents an advance 
of critical and historical thought so far-reaching and 
decisive, that it rightly holds the attention of Europe. 
If Modernism wins and maintains its right of citizen- 
[ xiv ] 


ship within Catholicism, the steady advance of the 
new Christianity throughout Europe, Catholic or Pro- 
testant, is assured; although, for centuries to come, 
the new and the old may still live and interact side by 
side. And what is worth notice is that 'Modernism/ 
in its Catholic form, is a movement starting not from 
the laity, but from the clergy ; it is affecting the cen- 
tral teachings and the accredited teachers of the 
Church ; and its followers are so certain of their ground 
that they have no idea of leaving the communion 
they love, and spend their whole energies in reform- 
ing it from within. Twenty years ago, in endeavouring 
to trace the effect of critical thought on an Anglican 
clergyman, it seemed to me that an honest man in 
Elsmere's position could only depart and renounce. 
Fogazzaro, in ' II Santo, ' has with great beauty and 
force pleaded just the opposite thesis. The Santo 
does not carry his Modernist denials and affirmations 
out of the Church ; it is the passionate aim of his life 
of sacrifice and love to naturalise them within it. And 
the religious novel which still remains to be written 
for ourselves will take the same ground. The Mod- 
ernist Anglican parson of the future will not go;; 
the struggle will arise and develop and be fought out; 
within the Church ; and only then, through the kind-- 
ling of that fire, will the Church of England renew its, 
youth, and regain its hold upon the nation. 

But in the last third of the nineteenth century the 

process of thought involved was still so crude and 

incomplete that it certainly appeared as if there were 

nothing for an Elsmere but to go. Let me try and show 

[ xv ] 


through a little autobiography how the situation 

'Robert Elsmere' was begun some time in 1885, 
finished at the very end of 1887, and published in 
February, 1888. But if I try to trace back some of 
the causes which led to its composition, I find myself 
once more in the heart of that Oxford life, of which 
some aspects and forces find expression in the early 
part of the book. From 1872 to 1881, my early 
married years were spent in the beautiful city to 
which I came, a child of fourteen, with my parents in 
1865, there to find, as I grew up, friends and influ- 
ences and surroundings which strengthened whatever 
tendencies to a literary life were natural to one of 
my name and family tradition. My husband and I 
married in 1872, and our three children were born 
before 1880. In the free intervals which the cares of 
home left me, I got through a good deal of reading 
and writing of a rather various kind, concerned now 
with English, now with French, now with Spanish 
literature; and articles by me appeared in Macmillan, 
the Saturday Review, and the Fortnightly. But in 1879 
all this was merged in a task which occupied me for 
nearly two years, and was in truth the only piece of 
serious and consecutive training, in both writing and 
thinking, to which, so far as those years of youth are 
concerned, I can look back. Dr. Wace, now Dean of 
Canterbury, came to Oxford to beat up contributors 
for the second and succeeding volumes of 'The Dic- 
tionary of Christian Biography/ The first volume - 
since amended was thought inadequate and im- 
perfect. It was the ambition of the new editor to se- 
[ xvi ] 


cure some historical recruits from Oxford who might 
help him with the later volumes, especially in the 
obscurer fields and side-paths connected with the 
incursion of the northern races into Europe and the 
break-up of the Roman Empire. Among other ad- 
ditions to his staff, he found in Mr. Arthur Dyke 
Acland, then historical lecturer at Christchurch and 
bursar of the College, and afterwards a member of Mr. 
Gladstone's last Cabinet, a student ready to help him 
with the Ostrogoths; from Mr. T. R. Buchanan, 
Fellow of All Souls, and lately Under Secretary for 
India, he obtained a similar promise with regard to 
the Franks; and he came to me, on the ground, I 
imagine, of some articles on Spanish Chronicles con- 
tributed by me to the Saturday Review, for the West- 
Goths and Spanish Christianity generally, up to 
800 A.D. 

Mr. Acland and Mr. Buchanan were soon carried off 
by politics into wider fields where Franks and Ostro- 
goths were but as ghosts vanishing at cockcrow. 
But for me, the two years of labour among the docu- 
ments of the early Spanish Church and the West- 
Gothic Kingdom, aided at every step by German 
criticism and research, were the determining years of 
life. Practically, I have described them and their 
effect on the mind in ' Robert Elsmere. ' Robert, in 
the leisure of a country parsonage, sets himself to 
study the origins of modern France, as the infant state 
gradually emerged from the wreck or the transforma- 
tion of the Roman polity. In the chapter describing 
the Squire's library, Elsmere, for the benefit of Lang- 
ham, sketches 'the sort of book he thought might be 
[ xvii ] 


written on the rise of modern society in Gaul, dwelling 
first on the outward spectacle of the blood-stained 
Frankish world as it was, say, in the days of Gregory 
the Great, on its savage kings, its fiendish women, its 
bishops and its saints; and then, on the conflict of 
ideas going on behind all the fierce incoherence of the 
Empire's decay, the struggle of Roman order and of 
German freedom, of Roman luxury with German hard- 
ness ; above all, the war of orthodoxy and heresy with 
its widespread political complications/ His ambition is 
'to grasp and analyse that strange sense which haunts 
the student of Rome's decline, as it once overshadowed 
the infancy of Europe, as of a slowly departing 
majesty, a great presence just withdrawn and still in- 
calculably potent/ Langham listens to the historical 
ambitions of his companion, and when Robert has de- 
veloped them, he interposes with the remark : 'There 
is one thing that does n't seem to have troubled you 
yet. You will come to it ! It makes almost the chief 
interest it is indeed the dominant problem of 
history. History depends on testimony. What is the 
nature and the value of testimony at given times? In 
other words, did the man of the third century under- 
stand, or report, or interpret facts in the same way as 
the man of the sixteenth or the nineteenth? And if 
not, what are the differences, and what are the de- 
ductions to be drawn from them, if any?' 

Langham, in fact, asks his friend if, in approaching 
history, he has ever reflected on the psychology of 
testimony. Robert replies that he is as yet a beginner. 
He has been making a general survey of the ground ; 
he must now go to work, inch by inch, and find out 
[ xviii ] 


what the ground is made of. The point is of course 
enormously important. 'I should think it is/ said 
Langham to himself, as he rose: 'the whole of ortho- 
dox Christianity is in it, for instance!' 

It was to this conclusion that two years of historical 
work, dealing at first hand with the chronicles and 
councils, the treatises and biographies of Spain during 
the four centuries before Charles the Great, had led 
the mind of the writer who tried to express herself 
in 'Robert Elsmere/ The astonishment awakened in 
Elsmere, as his task develops by those strange pro- 
cesses of mind current in the historians of certain 
periods, processes which, are often more significant 
and illuminating than the facts which the historians 
are trying to relate, was in truth my own astonish- 
ment. After some fourteen years spent at Oxford in 
a more or less continuous though always desultory 
study of English poetry, French belles-lettres, and 
what one may call the general literature of modern 
religion, the Ada of Spanish Councils, and the 
chronicles and hagiography of the West-Gothic 
Kingdom, studied with a certain intensity, pro- 
duced in me, beside the immediate historical re- 
sult, a kind of far-reaching stir and rumination, if 
one may so put it, which gradually affected the 
whole mind. And it was this stir and rumination 
which, six years later, I endeavoured to reproduce in 
'Robert Elsmere/ 

There were of course other elements in the matter. 
There was the stimulus of that literary atmosphere 
supplied by Oxford itself, with its perpetual appeal 
to the past, and the poetry of the past. And beside 


the atmosphere of literature, there was the atmo- 
sphere of religious controversy, then far more evident 
and tangible at Oxford than it is to-day. For us 
young married people of the early seventies the in- 
fluence of the great Liberal reaction which had fol- 
lowed the Tractarian Movement was still a living and 
combative force. Christ Church, from which in my 
day the harsh and, to us, mysterious figure of Pusey 
emerged occasionally, to deliver a Jeremiah-like word 
of warning or appeal from the University pulpit, was 
the headquarters of orthodoxy; Balliol, with Jowett 
for its Master, represented the Liberal camp. Through 
the famous Bamptons and his University sermons 
generally, still more perhaps through an unseen and 
very able management of affairs, Dr. Liddon had be- 
come the champion and leader of the Church forces ; 
while at Balliol, the Master, and still more the beloved 
tutor and professor, Thomas Hill Green, stood for a 
constructive Liberalism, the results of which in Eng- 
lish religious thought at the present day are, I ven- 
ture to think, of far greater importance than any- 
thing which can be traced to the winning personality 
and the oratorical gift of Liddon. Then, a stone's 
throw off, Mark Pattison, at Lincoln College, the sar- 
castic and often bitter exponent of a type of learning 
which despised the idealism of Balliol hardly less than 
the ecclesiasticism of Christ Church, wielded a power, 
of limited range indeed, but, on those who felt it, 
of penetrating effect. In the picture of the Squire in 
'Robert Elsmere/ those who knew Mark Pattison may 
have recognised a few of his more obvious traits : 
'Mr. Wendover was a man of middle height and 
[ xx ] 


loose bony frame, of which all the lower half had a 
thin and shrunken look. But the shoulders, which 
had the scholar's stoop, and the head, were massive 
and squarely outlined. The head was specially re- 
markable for its great breadth and comparative flat- 
ness above the eyes, and for the way in which the 
head itself dwarfed the face, which, as contrasted with 
the large angularity of the skull, was somewhat 
pinched and drawn. The hair was reddish grey, the 
eyes small, but deep-set under firm brows, and the 
thin-lipped wrinkled mouth, the long nose and chin, 
produced an effect of hard sarcastic strength/ 

Such, as I look back, was the outer aspect of Mark 
Pattison, one of the friends of my youth to whom I 
have most cause to be grateful. I saw him thus, in 
the winter evenings, when, as a girl of nineteen, I 
would sometimes find myself in his library at Lincoln ; 
'the Rector' on one side of the fire, myself on the 
other, the cat and the cheerful blaze between. He 
looked thus as he talked of men and books and Uni- 
versity affairs, with a frankness he showed much more 
readily to women than to men, and to the young rather 
than to his own contemporaries. He was always inter- 
ested in the young girl-students of Oxford. He tried to 
help them, and set a standard before them ; and when 
afterwards that bitter but most impressive fragment of 
autobiography appeared one of the 'documents' of 
University life in the nineteenth century which no 
after historian will neglect there were some of us 
who read it with no mere intellectual interest, but 
with a sharp pang at heart that our true friend should 
have suffered so much and so barrenly. 
[ xxi ] 


For the rest, 'the Rector' suggested the Squire only 
so far as outward aspect, a few personal traits, and 
the two main facts of great learning and a general 
impatience of fools are concerned. It is difficult to 
imagine Pattison as a country squire, or in any other 
setting indeed than college walls ; but if he had ever 
found himself a great landowner, he would not have 
allowed himself to be managed by his agent ; and there 
would have been no insanitary cottages on his estates. 

To return, however, to the Oxford of thirty years 
ago. In addition to Christ Church, Balliol, and Lincoln, 
with the literary and philosophical culture for which 
they stood, there was, of course, Science, camped 
around the University Museum, in the background. 
As far as my own personal recollection goes, the men 
of science entered but little into the struggle of ideas 
that was going on. The main Darwinian battle had 
been won long before 1870; science was quietly veri- 
fying and exploring along the new lines; it was in 
literature, history, and theology that evolutionary 
conceptions were most visibly and dramatically at 
work. The ever-advancing study of comparative re- 
ligion, and of the earliest documents and primitive 
history of Christianity there lay in truth the chief 
interest of these years for many minds. When they 
began, 'Ecce Homo' had just been published; Baur's 
'St. Paul/ the 'Vie de Jesus/ and Strauss's 'Neues 
Leben Jesu' were comparatively new books. Before 
my husband and I left Oxford in 1881, all Renan's 
'Origines' had appeared, so had 'Literature and 
Dogma' and 'Supernatural Religion '; while Germany 
had seen the rise of that richer and more varied theo- 
[ xxii ] 


logical school of which Harnack has now become 
throughout Europe the chief representative. Before 

1888, the year of 'Robert Elsmere/ this later German 
school, built on the foundations provided by Strauss 
and Baur, was at its height, it had captured the great 
majority of the German universities, and in the Dialogue 
on 'The New Reformation/ published in January, 

1889, which I have reprinted at the end of the second 
volume of this edition, the effect of its development 
on English minds may be seen, I think, with some 

Under the constant pressure of this advancing force, 
which we now see fully developed in 'Modernism/ the 
orthodoxy of Oxford, in my youth, showed itself nat- 
urally impatient and ill at ease. The University pulpit 
was filled with men endeavouring to fit a not very 
exacting science to a very grudging orthodoxy. It 
was not the great debate itself that we heard there, 
but rather its weakened echoes. Yet the great debate 
was all round us, and the heat of it was in the Oxford 
air. It was in the spring of 1881 that the Reverend 
John Wordsworth, Fellow and Tutor of Brasenose Col- 
lege, as he then was now the Bishop of Salisbury 
preached the Bampton Lectures in St. Mary's. A 
personal recollection with regard to the first of those 
Lectures may be given here, as it was in fact to the 
indignant reaction excited by that sermon in the mind 
of one of Dr. Wordsworth's hearers that 'Robert Els- 
mere' may ultimately be traced. 

The syllabus of the Lecture had been circulated 
beforehand. It contained the following : ' The present 
unsettlement in religion. Its relation to the move- 


ment of civilisation. Sense of injustice often felt 
in a time of transition. Book of Job. Christ, 
however, connects unbelief and sin. Moral causes 
of unbelief, (1) Prejudice ; (2) Severe claims of religion ; 
(3) Intellectual faults, especially indolence, coldness, 
recklessness, pride, and avarice/ These headings were 
developed in the sermon itself with a good deal of 
vigour and rigour. I remember gazing from those dim 
pews under the gallery, where the Masters' wives sit, at 
the fine ascetic face of the preacher, with its strong 
likeness to his great-uncle, the poet of English pan- 
theism; and seeing beside it and around it, in 
imagination, the forms of those, his colleagues and 
contemporaries, the patient scholars and thinkers 
of the Liberal host, whom he was in truth though 
perhaps not consciously -- attacking. My heart 
burned within me; and it sprang into my mind 
that the only way to show England what was in 
truth going on in its midst, was to try and express it 
concretely, in terms of actual life and conduct. 
Who and what were the persons who had either pro- 
voked the present unsettlement of religion, or were 
suffering under its effects? What was their history? 
How had their thoughts and doubts come to be? 
and what was the effect of them on conduct? 

It was from this protesting impulse, constantly 
cherished and strengthened, that, a few years later, 
' Robert Elsmere' took its beginning. It found imme- 
diate expression, however, in a pamphlet called ' Un- 
belief and Sin a Protest addressed to those who 
attended the Bampton Lecture of Sunday, March 
6.' I wrote it rapidly; it was printed, and put up for 
[ xxiv 


sale in the windows of a well-known bookseller's shop 
in the High Street. Then an incident, not without its 
touch of comedy, put a speedy end to its existence. 
I was then quite inexperienced in the details of pub- 
lication, and I had not noticed that no doubt with 
a shrewd eye to their large clerical clientele the 
firm of booksellers concerned had omitted to give 
any printer's name on the pamphlet. It had only 
been in the window a few hours, and had been so far 
selling rapidly, when a well-known High Churchman 
walked in and asked to look at it. It was handed to 
him; he turned it over and asked to see one of the 
partners. The partner appeared; it was pointed out 
to him that to publish the pamphlet without a 
printer's name was an illegal act; that it must be at 
once withdrawn or penalties might be exacted. The 
frightened booksellers withdrew the pamphlet, and 
the incident closed apparently with a few letters 
in the Guardian. But, as I have already said, the 
crude pamphlet thus easily suppressed contained the 
germ of the later book. In it I tried to sketch two 
types of character, A and B, the one carried by 
history and criticism into 'unbelief,' --the other 
gradually stifling in himself the instincts and powers 
of the free mind; and I endeavoured to show that 
what the Bampton Lecturer had denounced as 'un- 
belief was simply a 'particular way of judging' a , 
series of documents and events belonging to history 
like any other documents and events; and that 'the 
Christian problem was first and foremost a literary 
problem,' and must be handled as such. As to the 
analysis of the phenomena of unbelief given by the 
[ xxv ] 


preacher himself, the little pamphlet asked indig- 
nantly, 'Is this all that a religious teacher at the 
centre of English intellectual activity, whose business 
it is to make a study of religious thought and of the 
religious life in man, can tell us about that great 
movement of the human mind against the traditional 
Christian theology, which is to many of us the most 
important fact of our day and age? Does he see no 
further, does he understand no more than this?'/ 

The note of emotion and complaint in this passage 
is of the date. The fight was hotter then than now ; the 
older orthodoxy weighed upon England and on the 
minds of us all, like that consciousness of the Empire 
on the minds of Goth and Frank a presence just 
withdrawn, or withdrawing, and ' still incalculably 
potent/ The certainties of what Dr. Wordsworth 
called 'unbelief are much more certain now than 
then; and the attitude of the 'believer' towards them 
has fundamentally changed. Both sides have grown 
calmer to-day the one in assertion, the other in 
denial ; and between and beneath the two, the history 
and criticism, which in 1881 were still in the main a 
severing and disintegrating force, are now building 
unseen perchance the foundations of a larger 
unity. The 'unbelief of the eighties must needs de- 
part and go into exile. 'Robert Elsmere' expresses 
this point of view. Our empty churches and the ever 
diminishing hold of the Christian tradition in its older 
forms are the result of that situation. But Christ- 
ianity, as a spirit and a life, is imperishable ; the loom 
of Time has woven steadily in these twenty years; 
and there will be a new birth for the Church of Eng- 
[ xxvi ] 


land, and a new subject for the 'Dichtung' of the 
future, whenever English 'Modernism' is at last so 
sure of itself that instead of going out, it claims 
resolutely to stay within, and, at the cost perhaps of 
some decisive conflict, to make good its right and its 
citizenship within the Church of our fathers. 

Meanwhile beside the grave of George Tyrrell, 
and envious of the new forces in Catholicism we 
wait still for the signs of that greater future. 


In 1881 my husband and I left beloved Oxford, and 
settled in London. During the next four years, while 
my husband wrote for the Times, I, having finished 
with the West-Goths, was busy with reviewing and 
literary articles, but always with the subject that 
had first occurred to me in the writing of 'Unbelief 
and Sin 7 hovering in the mind. The translation of 
AmielV Journal Intime/and the friendship it brought 
me with M. Edmond Scherer, Amid's editor, the 
gentler embodiment in French criticism of that wide 
learning, intellectual probity and pessimist philosophy 
which Oxford respected in Mark Pattison, showed me 
something of the working of the 'new learning ' in 
French and Swiss Protestantism. Meanwhile my 
children and I had made acquaintance with the Surrey 
Commons. A short tenancy of Peper Harow Vicarage 
in the summer of 1882 led us to take some rooms in a 
farmhouse, lost in the heathery and sandy loneliness 
of Rodborough, the beautiful wild land which 
stretches along the Portsmouth Road from Milford 
[ xxvii ] 


to Hindhead. There we passed the summers of six 
happy years, and partly there, partly in a tiny 
'powder-closet' at the back of our old house in 
Russell Square, now pulled down, 'Robert Els- 
mere' was written. 

I began it in 1885. Some old friends with whom 
we were staying in the North took us one bright spring 
afternoon for an excursion up the valley of Long 
Sleddale, which runs up into the southern slopes of 
the Ullswater Mountains. The main outline of my 
story was already in my head, and as we drove through 
the spring leaf and fruit blossom of the bare bright 
valley, or wandered past the farm at the head, along 
the stream, and into the desolate hollow of Goat Fell, 
the figure of Catherine grew plain tome. Westmoreland 
Fells and Westmoreland Becks had 'haunted me like 
a passion' since my childhood; I knew Ambleside, 
Rydal and Grasmere, and many of their inmates, too 
well indeed to risk the drawing of those classic vales 
and the peopling of them with mere creatures of im- 
agination; but this valley of Long Sleddale, familiar 
as Westmoreland ground, and yet strange to me, 
little known also to the world outside, supplied a 
setting on which I seized at once. I saw the house 
where Catherine and her sister lived; the vicarage 
where Robert stayed ; the farm where Mary Backhouse 
died. To the first rush of imagination it was all plain, 
and I went home to try and reduce it to writing and 

The writing of the book took nearly three years. 
I shrink from saying that, long as it is now, it was at 
one time far longer ! The description of the Squire's 
[ xxviii ] 


influence on Robert, the conversations on Christian 
evidence, were originally much fuller. But as the hu- 
man interest of the story gained upon me I began to 
shorten these sections of the story, until in the third 
year, immediately before publication, I desperately re- 
duced them, so far as to give some colour, no doubt, 
to Mr. Gladstone's reproach, though I cannot but 
think it exaggerated: 

'The book/ says Mr. Gladstone, ' speaks indeed of 
"the long wrestle" of the two men, and the like. 
But of Elsmere's wrestling there is no other trace or 
sign. A great creed, with the testimony of eighteen 
centuries at its back, cannot find an articulate word 
to say in its defence/ 

Those who dislike theroman & th&se will say of course 
that the dilemma which confronted me is the inevitable 
dilemma of the propagandist, in all forms of art. 
Either the art or the thesis suffers. Yet perhaps the 
degree of injury is determined by the degree of life 
and significance in the ideas, the debate, involved. V 
At a moment when the particular ideas put forward 
have a high degree of life and significance for a great 
many people, the public in a sense cooperates in the 
book. Such a novel as 'Robert Elsmere' is entirely 
related to a particular time and milieu; and those who 
are drawn to read it, unconsciously lend it their own 
thoughts, the passion of their own assents and denials. 
Some happy chance bestows on a novel this suggestive, 
symbolic character ; and the reader's eager sympathy, 
or antagonism, completes the effort of the writer. 

The last few months before the book came out were 
months of sorrow and weariness. My mother was dy- 
[ xxix ] 


ing of a lingering and tragic illness ; and in my anxiety 
for her, and the fatigue induced by the long struggle 
of the book, I was entirely despondent of its success. 
Neither my kind publisher, Mr. George Murray Smith, 
-wisest and most generous of friends! nor I ex- 
pected any large audience. I could not but hope that 
what had stirred me so deeply to write must find 
some response at least in minds like my own, accus- 
tomed to similar lines of thought. But of a popular 
success for anything so serious, so controversial and 
so long I never olreamed. Two persons only, my dear 
eldest brother, W. T. Arnold, and my old friend Canon 
Creighton, then Emmanuel Professor at Cambridge, 
foresaw what really happened. 

The book appeared on February 21, 1888. Its suc- 
cess was rapid and decisive. Within a fortnight of its 
appearance a North-country member of Parliament, a 
stranger to me, whom I met at Liverpool, told me he 
had walked over all the ground described in it, in 
Westmoreland and Surrey. Almost immediately after- 
wards the rush at Mudie's began, and letters and re- 
views came pouring in. All through March the interest 
in it grew; a second edition of the three volumes was 
soon called for, and a third edition was issued some 
weeks before Mr. Gladstone's article appeared in the 
May Nineteenth Century. The fate of the novel was 
never in doubt, and although it would be ungracious 
and untrue to say that Mr. Gladstone's review the 
best piece of literary criticism, I may be allowed to 
think, he ever wrote had no effect upon it, it had 
much less than has been generally supposed. 

The hubbub of reviewing, preaching and discussion 
[ xxx ] 


that arose about the novel both in England and 
America, and continued throughout the year, will 
perhaps be remembered by some of those who read 
this preface. To one who, though always a writer, had 
never reached more than a small public, the immense 
publicity so rapidly attained was naturally exciting 
and bewildering. Yet it had hardly begun when, be- 
tween me and it, there was a veil drawn, so that now, 
as I turn towards those early months, I find myself 
looking into the face, not of Success, but of Grief; 
and the voices of praise are lost in those of mourning. 
My mother died on April 7; on April 15 Matthew 
Arnold fell dead in a street of Liverpool. My mother's 
death occurred in the dawn hours of the day on which 
the Times review of 'Robert Elsmere' the first 
public recognition perhaps of its phenomenal success 
- was published ; and it was on the way down to my 
dear uncle's funeral in Laleham Churchyard that Mr. 
George Smith, his publisher and friend, as he had now 
become mine, gave me news that would have absorbed 
me at another moment. But then all personal success 
seemed a poor, embittered thing; and I knew the 
meaning of Landor's poignant phrase, 'that sad 
word, Joy 'I 

Later on, of course, especially when the great 
American success of the book began, in July and 
August, I took a natural delight and pride in it all. 
But in those muffled weeks of April and May, what 
I remember with most clearness are two conversa- 
tions with Mr. Gladstone on April 8 and 9, and a few 
letters that I specially valued from Professor Creigh- 
ton, Henry James, Walter Pater, and M. Taine. It 
[ xxxi ] 


was on the Sunday after my mother's death that I met 
Mr. Gladstone at Keble College. He had read the 
book, was going to write upon it for the Nineteenth 
Century, and asked that we might have some conversa- 
tion. I went to Keble ; we talked for an hour, and met 
again on Monday morning for another hour and 
more. To me a memorable opportunity! For it was 
the first time that I had seen Mr. Gladstone except 
in a crowd or on ceremonial occasions, and here we 
were, discussing the great matters of religion, and the 
influence of English religious leaders, tete-a-tete, in 
complete freedom and solitude. It was of course a 
wholly unequal debate. Mr. Gladstone was nearly 
eighty, I was thirty-seven. Although my husband 
and I had not been able to follow him, as Liberals, in 
1886, and though I had hotly resented what had 
seemed to me certain grudging and ungenerous ele- 
ments in his treatment of my uncle, W. E. Forster, 
during the terrible Land League years of 1880-82, he 
was yet clothed in my eyes with a halo and an interest, 
a personal and historic prestige which no leader of 
the present day seems to possess for his followers. His 
splendid white head, his well-known features, were for 
me the symbols of all the great struggles and events 
of my time ; even in opposition, defeat, and old age, he 
was still the incomparable orator and the formidable 
statesman. In the following year I was to hear him 
denounce the Parnell Commission in the House of 
Commons with all his old mastery and passion; and 
his last Premiership was still before him. It was im- 
possible that there should be any equal give-and-take 
between us, even on subjects such as German 



theological criticism where I might have honestly 
felt that I had a better right to an opinion than he. 
I was awed by his personality, and only too glad to 
listen and follow. 1 Once only, in the second day's 
conversation, did we really come to close quarters. 
We had at last arrived at the question of historical 
evidence on which Elsmere's story turns ; and in con- 
nexion with, I think, the evidence for the Resurrec- 
tion, Mr. Gladstone quoted one of the speeches in 
the Acts. I quickly protested that the speeches in the 
Acts could only be regarded as indirect evidence ; they 
were clearly not the actual words spoken, and repre- 
sented rather the views of the redactor of that early 
document as to what Stephen, or Peter, or Paul would 
have said, under the given circumstances; a com- 
monplace, of course, of independent New Testament 
criticism. But the remark roused the sleeping passion 
of Mr. Gladstone. He became quite pale; his eye 
flashed; he said something in a deep, thunderous 
voice about the 'trumpery objections' of Renan and 
the Germans; and I withdrew at once. It was as 
though some great eagle hovered, ready for battle; 
and feminine courage gave way. 

Then, as we said good-bye, standing in the pleasant 
Oxford drawing-room, Mr. Gladstone said: 'I am 
an old man, Mrs. Ward ! My day is nearly done. But 
there are still two things that remain for me to do. 
One is to carry Home Rule! the other' he 
paused a moment, looking at me with his kindling 

1 Among the appendices to the second volume of this edition the reader will 
find my notes, written on the following afternoon, of the first day's conversation. 
Unfortunately I have no such record of the second, which was really the more 

[ xxxiii ] 


eyes 'to show the substantial identity between 
the ancient Hebrew and Olympian revelations ! ' 

I went away, a little bewildered by the suddenness 
of these last words, but conscious at the same time 
that nothing could possibly have been more charac- 
teristic, more Gladstonian ! Characteristic at once of 
the unabated energy of a marvellous old age, and 
also, perhaps, of the freedom of an earlier world, be- 
fore the specialist reigned, when the cultivated mind 
'judged all things' without fear. 

Mr. Gladstone's article on 'Robert Elsmere' ap- 
peared in the May number of the Nineteenth Century. 1 
It was written with a vigour, and at the same time 
with an old-world courtesy and generosity, which gave 
it a very wide hearing, and roused in the writer of the 
book a personal affection and reverence for her re- 
viewer, which remained to me, a happy possession, 
long after what he himself in a letter to me called 'our 
tear-less battle' was over and done. But, intellectu- 
ally, I felt that his article must be answered, and al- 
though Mr. Jowett, who had all along taken a vivid 
interest in the success of the novel, came to London 
on purpose to persuade me to forego reply, and other 
friends, whose opinion weighed with me greatly, also 
insisted on the barrenness and futility of controversy 
in other media, and with other weapons than those 
I had originally used the weapons of art and imagina- 
tion, I clung to my project, and 'The New Reforma- 
tion' 2 appeared in the following January. The dear 
Master, on reading it, drew a long breath of relief, 

1 Some extracts from it are given in the appendices. 

2 Printed in the appendices. 

[ xxxiv ] 


and wrote to me that it had 'done no harm/ and 
showed 'a considerable knowledge of German criti- 
cism/ I too felt that it had done no harm; and in- 
deed it gave me a certain admitted right to speak, in 
the years that followed, not on behalf of scholarship 
or criticism, in themselves, for that I never dreamed 
of claiming, but as an interpreter and reporter to the 
wide lay public of a certain kind of scholarly and 
historical work, profoundly affecting the thought and 
action of daily life, and too little known or realised in 


Among the many hundreds of letters which reached 
me from England and America about ' Robert Elsmere, ' 
I may perhaps be allowed to quote, first, some words 
of my husband's old friend and mine, Mandell Creigh- 
ton, whom the wider public knew for four short years 
as the greatest Bishop of London in our generation, 
and his own contemporaries and intimates will re- 
member to their last hour, as one of the ablest, sub- 
tlest, most vivacious, and most loveable of men. He 
did not in any way agree with the opinions set forth 
in the book, and he held that fiction was not the 
vehicle for their discussion. He had many criticisms 
to make on the conduct of the story, and the character 
of Robert; but he gladdened me by saying that 'the 
view of life as a whole' taken in the novel, 'of the J 
possibilities of the human heart, of the solace given by 
nature, by art, by companionship all this is true 
and just and touching. Moreover, though the subject- 
[ xxxv ] 


matter of the book is disputable, the fairness of mind 
which it shows is not disputable. You have tried to 
enter into manifold views and shades of opinion, and 
you have sneered at none/ My husband's former 
colleague at Brasenose, Walter Pater, for whose work 
I had a passionate admiration, not only wrote an 
article on 'Robert Elsmere' for the Guardian (repub- 
lished a few years ago), but in a little note that meant 
a great deal to its recipient, repeated the judgement 
of the Guardian article, that the book was 'a chef 
d'ceuvre of quiet observation and feeling'; M. Taine - 
whom I had met at Oxford in 1871 sent me the 
letter which has been printed in his correspondence, 
and is included in the appendices to this edition; 
and Mr. Henry James my friend then, and through 
nearly thirty years wrote me some pages of 
generous praise and admirable criticism, which he 
allows me to quote here. If to have asked him for 
leave to reprint them is to convict me of an egotist- 
ical and boastful temper, I cannot help it ! The pleasure 
that revives in me, after these many years, as I turn 
over the pages, brushes other feelings away; and 
a younger generation that increasingly delights to 
honour one of the half-dozen masters* of fiction in 
Europe and America that now remain to us will not, 
I think, read them without interest. 

'I owe you an explanation of my long silence about your 
beautiful book but I am afraid my explanation will only 
fill you with deeper contempt for my want of intellectual 
energy. I have read two volumes of it and then have just 
had to send the third off to my sister (to folio wits predecessor) > 
both because she clamours for it and because I have just 
instantly to plunge into some very incongruous reading en- 
[ xxxvi ] 


gendered by a promise to write immediately an article on 
Pierre Loti, and don't want to touch "Robert Elsmere" before 
that is brushed away. I have to re-read the said Pierre from 
beginning to end, and I don't want to mix the said Robert 
up with him. Directly this episode is over I shall fall upon 
your third volume. But I have read the first and all but the 
forty last pages of the second, and I have done so with extreme 
admiration. The book has great and rare beauty, and interest 
of a high order : it is, I think, a very distinguished and remark- 
able production large and rich and full of the feeling of 
human life, and of a most refreshing acquaintance (amid the 
vulgar fashions of the hour) with the things of the mind and 
the soul. The things you attempt in it are all so interesting 
and the intelligence you bring to bear upon them so great 
the view so wide the horizon so full of blue distance and 
suggestion. The criticism that I should make of you is almost 
'only that your conceptions so fine as conceptions are 
not quite always representations, your people not simply enough, 
seen and planted on their feet. But the book abounds in life 
and that is the great thing. . . .You have the true view of the' 
interesting novel, that it 's a history of our moral life and not 
simply of our physical accidents. But this is only provisional, 
and I shall have much more to say to you. I shall return to- 
the charge. The book is immensely suggestive it dashes from 
me the mantle of shame in which in the eyes of Europe the 
greater part of current English fiction has lately plunged us/' 

In a second letter, written some weeks later, Mr.. 
James added: 

'I thought you had achieved in your book so many things, 
and so much reality as well as so much beauty, done so much 
in effect as well as in intention. The hold you keep of your hero 
is, I think, very remarkable and especially in relation to the 
kind of hold you constantly attempt to make it : the intimate, 
lucid, completely perceiving and completely expository point 
of view. You never touch him but he lives; and much as 
you tell about him you never kill him with it : though perhaps 
[ xxxvii ] 


one fears a little sometimes that he may suffer a sunstroke, 
damaging if not fatal, from the high, oblique light of your 
admiration for him. But fortunately you see him as much as 
you love him, and you feel him as much as you reason him ; 
and your touch goes on animating and your intelligence goes 
on penetrating, and you do perpetual admirable things in the 
way of sounding chords, and playing tunes and crossing airs, 
on fine fibres that would break so easily. Of all that inter- 
esting moral realm the vast dimness of character, of per- 
sonal history intimate and difficult to write you take, I 
think, really masterly possession, and you fiddle there as 
brilliantly as Rose fiddled in her musical world. The inter- 
esting thing to me, in your book (and its great success), as I 
think I have hinted before, is that you have seen a personal 
history in the richest and most interesting way the way 
that yields most fruit seen the adventures of the real being, 
the intensely living inner nature and seen them (rendering 
them too) so vividly that they become exciting, thrilling, 
strongly attaching as a "story" and hold one's curiosity and 
suspense to the end. You have imagined for Elsmere matters 
of detail infinitely delicate and fine, both as regards his 
relations with his wife and as regards all his other fermentation 
. and passion. This will tell you sufficiently what high successes 
I think both him and Catherine for Catherine is admirably 
understood, and so temperately, so un vulgarly painted. 
You are probably sick of hearing Langham praised; but he 
is a most interesting vivid study and seen, more than any one 
.else in the book, I think, as the pure painter sees his model. 
He is admirably drawn with his handsome pale head coming 
out of it and he turns eventually to such a truthful dusky 
grey! The three people in the book whom I think, objectively, 
least completely achieved are the Squire, Rose, and . Hugh 
Flaxman; but, alas, it would take me long to say all the 
whys and the wherefores! The Squire, one feels, is very 
elaborately and artistically composed even full of composite 
intentions in regard to him, but he does n't become, to my 
sense, simple and convincing. He has a symbolic part to play 
and that interferes he is too much composed and the 



pieces don't all hang together. I think the same may be said 
of Mrs. Darcy: all this strikes one as more invented than 
observed. One would have liked the agent of Elsmere's dis- 
integration to have been attended, somehow, with less ma- 
chinery, less of the picturesque intention, though of course 
remaining the type most opposed to your hero. And so with 
Rose here I am much in the dark and I don't understand 
your full intention or quite see ou vous vouliez en venir. Her 
general and special representative value her opposition, 
her illustration of all the other side of life a la bonne heure 
I am with you altogether. But why if she is only going not 
to act herself out 

'July 5th. I was violently interrupted two days ago and 
since then have not had a moment to finish my letter. I 
almost forget ? what I was going to say about Rose, but 
voyons un peu, yes, I was going to say that if she was only 
not to affirm the full artistic, aesthetic (I don't know what to 
call it untheological?) view of life, I don't exactly see why 
you gave her so much importance. I think you have made 
too much of her coquetry, her flippancy, impertinence, etc., 
as if that were a necessary part of her pursuit, her ambition. 
I can't help wishing that you had made her serious, deeply so, 
in her own line, as Catherine, for instance, is serious in hers. 
Then, if she had been strenuous and concentrated, the oppo- 
sition would have been more real and complete. And I am 
afraid I don't like her rich, fashionable marriage and find it 
too conventionally third volume-y. You may say that though 
rich it is n't " fashionable " in any vulgar sense, and that Flax- 
man is a very interesting attempt to study conscience in a 
high place, or at least in a full pocket to represent a fine 
characteristic modern case of the sense of responsibilities of 
wealth, etc. He is such an attempt, and per se I think him 
(per se in his relation to Elsmere) an excellent figure. But 
somehow I resent him as the solution of Rose's problem, which 
a sort of desire for poetic justice in me would have craved to 
see fought out on lines more characteristic. And Catherine 
would have been in her own way a more effective figure a 
[ xxxix ] 


more pathetic and tragic one if to bewilderment on the 
score of her husband's strange, perverse life of the conscience, 
into which she could n't enter, had been added bewilderment 
on the score of passions of another order on her sister's part, 
similarly intense and logical, and equally closed to her. But 
I am magnifying perhaps and I only wanted to express a 
sympathy. The whole book has inspired me with a very great 
awe, as a large, full picture of life, overflowing with experience, 
with atmosphere, with multitudinous touches and intentions 
of a kind I retain. The interest of any hovel, in the last analy- 
sis, is as a view of the world, and your view is a great sweep 
on which I congratulate you. Don't answer this, but only 
tell me, on the 13th, that you have deciphered it.' 


Of the characters and composition of the book I 
have not myself very much to say. In Catherine I 
tried to embody influences and modes of thought well 
known to my own youth, though, for the purposes of 
the story, they had to be embodied in a personality 
narrower and severer on the intellectual side than any 
of those dear friends and kinswomen of my own, faith- 
ful and self-denying children of the national Church, 
whose lives and faith inspired the portrait of Catherine. 
Those whose memory goes back thirty or forty years, 
who are acquainted, moreover, with the Anglican me- 
moirs and biographies of the mid-nineteenth century, 
will recognise very easily the sources whence she was 
drawn ; nor, amid the weakened barriers and diffusive 
debates of our own day, is the type yet as rare as 
many people suppose. Nothing changes so slowly, in 
any nation, as the main types of its religious life. The 
ideas on which they ultimately rest may have been 

t d ] 


transformed or cast aside in the general march of the 
world's thought, but though, for the moment, 'the 
brains be out' the type survives; until perhaps, in the 
course of years, the flood of a changed and transfig- 
ured thought flows back into the old moulds and chan- 
nels, and the type itself, through all differences, enters 
upon a new and vigorous life. I have often thought 
with regard to the Catherines of the world, plus go, 
change, plus c'est la meme chose! 

In Henry Grey I was of course thinking of the 
noblest and most persuasive master of philosophic 
thought in modern Oxford, Thomas Hill Green. The 
fragment of a Balliol sermon, in the first volume, is 
taken, as all editions of the book have pointed out, . 
from one of the 'Lay Sermons/ delivered by Mr. 
Green, as a college tutor, and published after his death. 
But the character of Grey is in no sense a portrait of 
T. H. Green. Reality suggested many points in the 
description, as I was at some pains to admit; but I 
was writing a novel and not a biographical study, and 
'Grey/ after the first few pages, plays a rdle and func- 
tion wholly relative to the story and conditioned by 
it. His conversation with Elsmere at the moment of 
crisis reproduces ideas which are to be found in Mr. 
Green's writings, but does so in a style and setting 
which have nothing to do with the living figure. I 
desired with all my heart to pay a tribute to an in- 
fluence and a personality which had meant so much 
to Oxford and to me; but the world of imagination 
has its own laws and paths, and Grey walks in them ; 
too happy, in his creator's eyes, if at any point 
he calls to mind that infinitely richer and more potent 


life that Oxford knew, thirty years ago, as 'Green 
of Balliol.' 

Langham owes his being entirely to the fact that 
in 1885, three years before the appearance of 'Robert 
Elsmere/ I had published a translation of AmieFs 
'Journal Intime. ' All those who felt with me the spell 
of that most pathetic and beautiful of the spiritual 
autobiographies of our day will remember the tragic 
passages in which Amiel dwells on the 'impossibility 
of willing/ the paralysis indeed of will power, and 
the lack of any effective interest in practical life and 
affairs, which wrecked his own career and quenched 
his own happiness. It was that impotence and that 
paralysis of the practical will, under the constant pres- 
sure of speculative thought, which, clothed in Oxford 
conditions and circumstances, I tried to realise anew 
in the character of Langham. Some of the phrases 
in the description of him are taken or paraphrased 
from the 'Journal Intime/ And yet, of course, Lang- 
ham is no more Amiel than Grey is T. H. Green; 
as soon as he enters the little world of the novel, action 
and reaction begin; he shapes others and is shaped 
by them ; and that final barrenness into which he falls 
has small relation indeed to the sad beauty, the tremu- 
lous hope, the dignity and renunciation which make 
Amiel's last pages so dear to many. 

Elsmere himself is a figure of pure imagination, in- 
spired and coloured, as all such figures are, by the 
actual human experience amid which he was conceived. 
Of the origins of the Squire I have said as much as I 
know, and it would not interest the readers of these 
pages if I were to try and unravel for them the threads 


and shreds of reality which went to the weaving of the 
minor groups and the general background of the story. 
And of the story itself it is not for me, even at 
this distance of time, to attempt any general criticism. 
Its faults are patent. It is the work of one who, in 
spite of or perhaps because of her long immer- 
sion in a learned and literary society was in many 
respects younger than her years, with much of the 
inexperience, much also of the courageous optimism 
of youth. From a purely literary point of view the , 
book wants irony and detachment ; it is not sufficiently 
objective and disinterested. Here and there I have 
been tempted to rewrite a scene which a wider ex- 
perience of life since it was written might have en- 
abled me to improve. But in the end I have changed 
little or nothing. The omission of a few paragraphs, 
the correction of a few redundancies and repetitions 
my re vision has only amounted to this. For the book 
belonged to a particular moment both in my own life 
and in the life of my generation. Whatever merit it 
has is a merit first and foremost of sincerity, of corre- 
spondence to something really felt and seen, the com- 
munication of a burning and still recent impression. 
The feeling of to-day would express itself in other 
ways and through other methods; but the feeling of 
yesterday has its own rights, and, if one may so speak, / 
its own sacredness. And is there not a kind of responsi- 
bility, also, to those who shared it with us? It was 
thus the book was written; it was thus it was wel- 
comed, and by many whose eyes are now closed for 
ever; and for whatever span of life it may still com- 
mand, it shall go out with the same dress and aspect 
[ xliii ] 


as at first. The voices of hope and doubt that speak 
through it are still breathing over England and 
Europe, though they speak with other accents and a 
changed emphasis. Perhaps time and strength may 
yet be left me in which to .try and interpret them 





IT was a brilliant afternoon towards the end of May. 
The spring had been unusually cold and late, and it 
was evident from the general aspect of the lonely 
Westmoreland valley of Long Whindale that warmth 
and sunshine had only just penetrated to its bare 
green recesses, where the few scattered trees were fast 
rushing into their full summer dress, while at their feet, 
and along the bank of the stream, the flowers of March 
and April still lingered, as though they found it impos- 
sible to believe that their rough brother, the east wind, 
had at last deserted them. The narrow road, which 
was the only link between the farmhouses sheltered 
by the crags at the head of the valley and those far- 
away regions of town and civilisation suggested by the 
smoke-wreaths of Whinborough on the southern hori- 
zon, was lined with masses of the white heckberry or 
bird-cherry, and ran, an arrowy line of white, through 
the greenness of the sloping pastures. The sides of 
some of the little becks running down into the main 
river and many of the plantations round the farms 
were gay with the same tree, so that the farmhouses, 
grey-roofed and grey- walled, standing in the hollows 
of the fells, seemed here and there to have been robbed 
of all their natural austerity of aspect, and to be mas- 
querading in a dainty garb of white-and -green imposed 
upon them by the caprice of the spring. 

[ 3 ] 


During the greater part of its course the valley of 
Long Whindale is tame and featureless. The hills at 
the lower part are low and rounded, and the sheep and 
cattle pasture over slopes unbroken either by wood 
or rock. The fields are bare and close-shaven by the 
flocks which feed on them; the walls run either per- 
pendicularly in many places up the fells or horizontally 
along them, so that, save for the wooded course of the 
tumbling river and the bush-grown hedges of the road, 
the whole valley looks like a green map divided by 
regular lines of greyish black. But as the walker pene- 
trates farther, beyond a certain bend which the stream 
makes halfway from the head of the dale, the hills 
grow steeper, the breadth between them contracts, the 
enclosure lines are broken and deflected by rocks and 
patches of plantation, and the few farms stand more 
boldly and conspicuously forward, each on its spur of 
land, looking up to or away from the great masses 
of frowning crag which close in the head of the valley, 
and which from the moment they come into sight give 
it dignity and a wild beauty. 

On one of these solitary houses, the afternoon sun, 
about to descend before very long behind the hills 
dividing Long Whindale from Shanmoor, was still ling- 
ering on this May afternoon we are describing, bringing 
out the whitewashed porch and the broad bands of 
white edging the windows into relief against the grey 
stone of the main fabric, the grey roof overhanging it, 
and the group of sycamores and Scotch firs which pro- 
tected it from the cold east and north. The western 
light struck full on a copper beech, which made a wel- 
come patch of warm colour in front of a long grey line 

[ 4 ] 

Burwood Farm 


of outhouses standing level with the house, and 
touched the heckberry blossom which marked the up- 
ward course of the little lane connecting the old farm 
with the road ; above it rose the green fell, broken here 
and there by jutting crags, and below it the ground 
sank rapidly through a piece of young hazel plantation, 
at this present moment a sheet of bluebells, towards 
the level of the river. There was a dainty and yet 
sober brightness about the whole picture. Summer in 
the North is for Nature a time of expansion and of joy 
as it is elsewhere, but there is none of that opulence, 
that sudden splendour and superabundance, which 
mark it in the South. In these bare green valleys there 
is a sort of delicate austerity even in the summer ; the 
memory of winter seems to be still lingering about 
these wind-swept fells, about the farmhouses, with 
their rough serviceable walls, of the same stone as 
the crags behind them, and the ravines, in which the 
shrunken becks trickle musically down through the de- 
bris of innumerable Decembers. The country is blithe, 
but soberly blithe. Nature shows herself delightful 
to man, but there is nothing absorbing or intoxicat- 1 
ing about her. Man is still well able to defend him- 
self against her, to live his own independent life of 
labour and of will, and to develop that tenacity of hid- 
den feeling, that slowly growing intensity of purpose, 
which is so often wiled out of him by the spells of the 

The distant aspect of Burwood Farm differed in 
nothing from that of the few other farmhouses which 
dotted the fells or clustered beside the river between 
it and the rocky end of the valley. But as one came 


nearer, certain signs of difference became visible. The 
garden, instead of being the old-fashioned medley of 
phloxes, lavender bushes, monthly roses, gooseberry 
trees, herbs, and pampas grass, with which the farm- 
ers' wives of Long Whindale loved to fill their little 
front enclosures, was trimly laid down in turf dotted 
with neat flower-beds, full at the moment we are writ- 
ing of with orderly patches of scarlet and purple anem- 
ones, wallflowers, and pansies. At the side of the house 
a new bow-window, modest enough in dimensions and 
make, had been thrown out on to another close-shaven 
piece of lawn, and by its suggestion of a distant sophis- 
ticated order of things disturbed the homely impres- 
sion left by the untouched ivy-grown walls, the un- 
pretending porch, and wide slate window-sills of the 
front. And evidently the line of sheds standing level 
with the dwelling-house no longer sheltered the ani- 
mals, the carts, or the tools which make the small 
capital of a Westmoreland farmer. The windows in 
them were new, the doors fresh -painted and closely 
shut; curtains of some soft outlandish make showed 
themselves in what had once been a stable, and the 
turf stretched smoothly up to a narrow gravelled path 
in front of them, unbroken by a single footmark. No, 
' evidently the old farm, for such it undoubtedly was, 
had been but lately, or comparatively lately, trans- 
/ formed to new and softer uses ; that rough patriarchal 
life of which it had once been a symbol and centre no 
longer bustled and clattered through it. It had be- 
come the shelter of new ideals, the home of another 
and a milder race than once possessed it. 

In a stranger coming upon the house for the first 
[ 6 ] 


time, on this particular evening, the sense of a chang- 
ing social order and a vanishing past produced by the 
slight but significant modifications it had undergone, 
would have been greatly quickened by certain sounds 
which were streaming out on to the evening air from 
one of the divisions of that long one-storied addition 
to the main dwelling we have already described. Some 
indefatigable musician inside was practising the violin 
with surprising energy and vigour, and within the little 
garden the distant murmur of the river and the gentle 
breathing of the west wind round the fell were entirely 
conquered and banished by these triumphant shakes 
and turns, or by the flourishes and the broad cantabile 
passages of one of Spohr's Andantes. For a while, as 
the sun sank lower and lower towards the Shanmoor 
hills, the hidden artist had it all his, or her, own way ; 
the valley and its green spaces seemed to be possessed 
by this stream of eddying sound, and no other sign of 
life broke the grey quiet of the house. But at last, just 
as the golden ball touched the summit of the craggy 
fell, which makes the western boundary of the dale at 
its higher end, the house-door opened, and a young 
girl, shawled and holding some soft burden in her arms, 
appeared on the threshold, and stood there for a mo- 
ment, as though trying the quality of the air outside. 
Her pause of inspection seemed to satisfy her, for she 
moved forward, leaving the door open behind her, and, 
stepping across the lawn, settled herself in a wicker 
chair under an apple-tree, which had only just shed 
its blossoms on the turf below. She had hardly done 
so when one of the distant doors opening on the gravel 
path flew open, and another maiden, a slim creature 


garbed in aesthetic blue, a mass of reddish brown hair 
flying back from her face, also stepped out into the 

'Agnes!' cried the new-comer, who had the strenu- 
ous and dishevelled air natujal to one just emerged 
from a long violin practice. ' Has Catherine come back 

'Not that I know of. Do come here and look at 
pussie ; did you ever see anything so comfortable ? ' 

'You and she look about equally lazy. What have 
you been doing all the afternoon ?' 

' We look what we are, my dear. Doing ? Why, I 
have been attending to my domestic duties, arranging 
the flowers, mending my pink dress for to-morrow 
night, and helping to keep mamma in good spirits ; she 
is depressed because she has been finding Elizabeth 
out in some waste or other, and I have been preaching 
to her to make Elizabeth uncomfortable if she likes 
but not to worrit herself. And after all, pussie and I 
.have come out for a rest. We've earned it, have n't 
we, Chattie ? And, as for you, Miss Artistic, I should 
like to know what you've been doing for the good of 
your kind since dinner. I suppose you had tea at the 

The speaker lifted inquiring eyes to her sister as she 
spoke, her cheek plunged in the warm fur of a splendid 
Persian cat, her whole look and voice expressing the 
very highest degree of quiet, comfort, and self-posses- 
sion. Agnes Leyburn was not pretty; the lower part 
of the face was a little heavy in outline and moulding ; 
the teeth were not as they should have been, and the 
nose was unsatisfactory. But the eyes under their 

[ 8 ] 


long lashes were shrewdness itself, and there was an 
individuality in the voice, a cheery even-temperedness 
in look and tone, which had a pleasing effect on the 
bystander. Her dress was neat and dainty; every 
detail of it bespoke a young woman who respected both 
herself and the fashion. 

Her sister, on the other hand, was guiltless of the 
smallest trace of fashion. Her skirts were cut with the 
most engaging naivete, she was much adorned with 
amber beads, and her red-brown hair had been tor- 
tured and frizzled to look as much like an aureole as 
possible. But, on the other hand, she was a beauty, 
though at present you felt her a beauty in disguise, 
a stage Cinderella as it were, in very becoming rags, 
waiting for the godmother. 

'Yes, I had tea at the vicarage/ said this young 
person, throwing herself on the grass in spite of a 
murmured protest from Agnes, who had an inherent 
dislike of anything physically rash, 'and I had the 
greatest difficulty to get away. Mrs. Thornburgh is in 
such a flutter about this visit ! One would think it was 
the Bishop and all his Canons, and promotion depend- 
ing on it, she has baked so many cakes and put out so 
many dinner napkins! I don't envy the young man. 
She will have no wits left at all to entertain him with. 
I actually wound up by administering some sal-volatile 
to her/ 

'Well, and after the sal-volatile did you get any- 
thing coherent out of her on the subject of the young 

'By degrees/ said the girl, her eyes twinkling; 'if 
one can only remember the thread between whiles 

[ 9 ] 


one gets at the facts somehow. In between the death 
of Mr. Elsmere's father and his going to college, we 
had, let me see, the spare-room curtains, the mak- 
ing of them and the cleaning of them, Sarah's idiocy 
in sticking to her black sheep of a young man, the 
price of tea when she married, Mr. Thornburgh 's singu- 
lar preference of boiled mutton to roast, the poems 
she had written to her when she was eighteen, and I 
can't tell you what else besides. But I held fast, and 
every now and then I brought her up to the point 
again, gently, but firmly, and now I think I know all 
I want to know about the interesting stranger/ 

'My ideas about him are not many/ said Agnes, 
rubbing her cheek gently up and down the purring 
cat, 'and there does n't seem to be much order in them. 
He is very accomplished a teetotaller he has 
been to the Holy Land, and his hair has been cut close 
after a fever. It sounds odd, but I am not curious. I 
can very well wait till to-morrow evening.' 

'Oh, well, as to ideas about a person, one does n't 
get that sort of thing from Mrs. Thornburgh. But I 
know how old he is, where he went to college, where 
his mother lives, a certain number of his mother's 
peculiarities^ which seem to be Irish and curious, 
where his living is, how much it is worth, likewise the 
colour of his eyes, as near as Mrs. Thornburgh can 

'What a start you have been getting!' said Agnes 
lazily. 'But what is it makes the poor old thing so 

Rose sat up and began to fling the fir cones lying 
about her at a distant mark with an energy worthy of 

[ 10 ] 


her physical perfections and the aesthetic freedom 
of her attire. 

' Because, my dear, Mrs. Thornburgh at the present 
moment is always seeing herself as the conspirator 
sitting match in hand before a mine. Mr. Elsmere is 
the match we are the mine ! ' 

Agnes looked at her sister, and they both laughed, 
the bright rippling laugh of young women perfectly 
aware of their own value, and in no hurry to force an 
estimate of it on the male world. 

'Well/ said Rose deliberately, her delicate cheek 
flushed with her gymnastics, her eyes sparkling, 'there 
is no saying. " Propinquity does it" as Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh is always reminding us. But where can 
Catherine be ? She went out directly after lunch/ 

'She has gone out to see that youth who hurt his 
back at the Tysons. At least I heard her talking to 
mamma about him, and she went out with a basket 
that looked like beef -tea.' 

Rose frowned a little. 

'And I suppose I ought to have been to the school or 
to see Mrs. Robson, instead of fiddling all the afternoon. 
I daresay I ought only, unfortunately, I like my 
fiddle, and I don't like stuffy cottages; and as for the 
goody books, I read them so badly that the old women 
themselves come down upon me/ 

'I seem to have been making the best of both 
worlds/ said Agnes placidly. 'I have n't been doing 
anything I don't like, but I got hold of that dress 
she brought home to make for little Emma Payne 
and nearly finished the skirt, so that I feel as good 
as one does when one has been twice to church on 


a wet Sunday. Ah, there is Catherine, I heard the 

As she spoke steps were heard approaching through 
the clump of trees which sheltered the little entrance 
gate, and as Rose sprang to her feet a tall figure in 
white and grey appeared against the background of 
the sycamores, and came quickly towards the sisters. 

'Dears, I am so sorry; I am afraid you have been 
waiting for me. But poor Mrs. Tyson wanted me so 
badly that I could not leave her. She had no one else 
to help her or to be with her till that eldest girl of hers 
came home from work.' 

'It does n't matter,' said Rose, as Catherine put 
her arm round her shoulder; 'mamma hasn't been 
fidgeting, and as for Agnes, she looks as if she never 
wanted to move again/ 

Catherine's clear eyes, which at the moment seemed 
to be full of inward light, kindled in them by some 
foregoing experience, rested kindly, but only half -con- 
sciously, on her youngest sister, as Agnes softly nodded 
and smiled to her. Evidently she was a good deal 
older than the other two she looked about six-and- 
twenty, a young and vigorous woman in the prime of 
health and strength. The lines of the form were rather 
thin and spare, but they were softened by the loose 
bodice and long full skirt of her dress, and by the folds 
of a large white muslin handkerchief which was crossed 
over her breast. The face, sheltered by the plain shady 
hat, was also a little spoilt from the point of view of 
beauty by the sharpness of the lines about the chin 
and mouth, and by a slight prominence of the cheek- 
bones, but the eyes, of a dark bluish -grey, were fine, 

[ 12 ] 


the nose delicately cut, the brow smooth and beautiful, 
while the complexion had caught the freshness and 
purity of Westmoreland air and Westmoreland 
streams. About face and figure there was a delicate 
austere charm, something which harmonised with 
the bare stretches and lonely crags of the fells, some- 
thing which seemed to make her a true daughter of the 
mountains, partaker at once of their gentleness and 
their severity. She was in her place here, beside the 
homely Westmoreland house and under the shelter of 
the fells. When you first saw the other sisters you 
wondered what strange chance had brought them into 
that remote sparely-peopled valley ; they were plainly 
exiles, and conscious exiles, from the movement and 
exhilarations of a fuller social life. But Catherine 
impressed you as only a refined variety of the local 
type ; you could have found many like her, in a sense, 
among the sweet-faced serious women of the neigh- 
bouring farms. 

Now, as she and Rose stood together, her hand still 
resting lightly on the other's shoulder, a question from 
Agnes banished the faint smile on her lips, and left 
only the look of inward illumination, the expression 
of one who had just passed, as it were, through a stren- 
uous and heroic moment of life, and was still living in 
the exaltation of memory. 

'So the poor fellow is worse?' 

' Yes. Doctor Baker, whom they have got to-day, 
says the spine is hopelessly injured. He may live on 
paralysed for a few months or longer, but there is no 
hope of cure.' 

Both girls uttered a shocked exclamation. 'That 
[ 13 ] 


fine strong young man!' said Rose under her breath. 
' Does he know ? ' 

' Yes ; when I got there the doctor had just gone, and 
Mrs. Tyson, who was quite unprepared for anything so 
dreadful, seemed to have almost lost her wits, poor 
thing ! I found her in the front kitchen with her apron 
over her head, rocking to and fro, and poor Arthur in 
the inner room all alone waiting in suspense/ 

'And who told him? He has been so hopeful.' 

'I did/ said Catherine gently; 'they made me. He 
would know, and she could n't she ran out of the 
room. I never saw anything so pitiful/ 

'Oh, Catherine!' exclaimed Rose's moved voice, 
while Agnes got up, and Chattie jumped softly down 
from her lap, unheeded. 

'How did he bear it?' 

' Don't ask me/ said Catherine, while the quiet tears 
filled her eyes and her voice broke, as the hidden feel- 
ing would have its way. ' It was terrible ! I don't know 
how we got through that half -hour his mother and 
I. It was like wrestling with some one in agony. At 
last he was exhausted he let me say the Lord's 
Prayer; I think it soothed him, but one could n't tell. 
He seemed half -asleep when I left. Oh!' she cried, 
laying her hand in a close grasp on Rose's arm, 'if you 
had seen his eyes, and his poor hands there was 
such despair in them! They say, though he was so 
young, he was thinking of getting married; and he 
was so steady, such a good son ! ' 

A silence fell upon the three. Catherine stood look- 
ing out across the valley towards the sunset. Now that 
the demand upon her for calmness and fortitude was 


removed, and that the religious exaltation in which 
she had gone through the last three hours was becom- 
ing less intense, the pure human pity of the scene she 
had just witnessed seemed to be gaining upon her. Her 
lip trembled, and two or three tears silently overflowed. 
Rose turned and gently kissed her cheek, and Agnes 
touched her hand caressingly. She smiled at them, for 
it was not in her nature to let any sign of love pass 
unheeded, and in a few more seconds she had mas- 
tered herself. 

' Dears, we must go in. Is mother in her room? Oh, 
Rose ! in that thin dress on the grass ; I ought n't to 
have kept you out. It is quite cold by now/ 

And she hurried them in, leaving them to superin- 
tend the preparations for supper downstairs while she 
ran up to her mother. 

A quarter of an hour afterwards they were all gath- 
ered round the supper-table, the windows open to the 
garden and the May twilight. At Catherine's right 
hand sat Mrs. Leyburn, a tall delicate-looking woman, 
wrapped in a white shawl, about whom there were 
only three things to be noticed an amiable temper, 
a sufficient amount of weak health to excuse her all 
the more tiresome duties of life, and an incorrigible 
tendency to sing the praises of her daughters at all 
times and to all people. The daughters winced under 
it : Catherine, because it was a positive pain to her to 
hear herself brought forward and talked about; the 
others, because youth infinitely prefers to make its 
own points in its own way. Nothing, however, could 
mend this defect of Mrs. Leyburn's. Catherine's 
strength of will could keep it in check sometimes, but 
[ 15 ] 


in general it had to be borne with. A sharp word would 
have silenced the mother's well-meant chatter at any 
time for she was a fragile, nervous woman, entirely 
dependent on her surroundings but none of them 
were capable of it, and their mere refractoriness 
counted for nothing. 

The dining-room in which they were gathered had a 
good deal of homely dignity, and was to the Leyburns 
full of associations. The oak settle near the fire, the 
oak sideboard running along one side of the room, the 
black oak table with carved legs at which they sat, 
were genuine pieces of old Westmoreland work, which 
had belonged to their grandfather. The heavy carpet 
covering the stone floor of what twenty years before 
had been the kitchen of the farmhouse was a survival 
from a South-country home, which had sheltered their 
lives for eight happy years. Over the mantelpiece 
hung the portrait of the girls' father, a long serious 
face, not unlike Wordsworth's face in outline, and 
bearing a strong resemblance to Catherine; a line of 
silhouettes adorned the mantelpiece ; on the walls were 
prints of Winchester and Worcester cathedrals, photo- 
graphs of Greece, and two old-fashioned engravings of 
Dante and Milton ; while a bookcase, filled apparently 
with the father's college books and college prizes and 
the favourite authors mostly poets, philosophers, 
and theologians of his later years, gave a final touch 
of habitableness to the room. The little meal and its 
appointments the eggs, the home-made bread and 
preserves, the tempting butter and old-fashioned sil- 
ver gleaming among the flowers which Rose arranged 
with fanciful skill in Japanese pots of her own provid- 

[ 16 ] 


ing suggested the same family qualities as the 
room. Frugality, a dainty personal self-respect, a 
family consciousness, tenacious of its memories and 
tenderly careful of all the little material objects which 
were to it the symbols of those memories clearly 
all these elements entered into the Leyburn tradition. 

And of this tradition, with its implied assertions and 
denials, Catherine Leyburn, the elder sister, was, of 
all the persons gathered in this little room, the most 
pronounced embodiment. She sat at the head of the 
table, the little basket of her own and her mother's 
keys beside her. Her dress was a soft black brocade, 
with lace collar and cuff, which had once belonged to 
an aunt of her mother's. It was too old for her both in 
fashion and material, but it gave her a gentle, almost 
matronly dignity, which became her. Her long thin 
hands, full of character and delicacy, moved nimbly 
among the cups; all her ways were quiet and yet de- 
cided. It was evident that among this little party she, 
and not the plaintive mother, was really in authority. 
To-night, however, her looks were specially soft. The 
scene she had gone through in the afternoon had left 
her pale, with traces of patient fatigue round the eyes 
and mouth, but all her emotion was gone, and she was 
devoting herself to the others, responding with quick 
interest and ready smiles to all they had to say, and 
contributing the little experiences of her own day in 

Rose sat on her left hand in yet another gown of 

strange tint and archaic outline. Rose's gowns were 

legion. They were manufactured by a farmer's 

daughter across the valley, under her strict and pre- 

[ 17 ] 


cise supervision. She was accustomed, as she boldly 
avowed, to shut herself up at the beginning of each 
season of the year for two days' meditation on the 
subject. And now, thanks to the spring warmth, she 
was entering at last with infinite zest on the results 
of her April vigils. 

Catherine had surveyed her as she entered the room 
with a smile, but a smile not altogether to Rose's 

'What, another, Roschen?' she had said, with the 
slightest lifting of the eyebrows. ' You never confided 
that to me/ Did you think I was unworthy of anything 
so artistic?' 

'Not at all/ said Rose calmly, seating herself. 'I 
thought you were better employed.' 

But a flush flew over her transparent cheek, and 
she presently threw an irritated look at Agnes, who 
had been looking from her to Catherine with amused 

' I met Mr. Thornburgh and Mr. Elsmere driving from 
the station,' Catherine announced presently; 'at least 
there was a gentleman in a clerical wideawake, with 
a portmanteau behind, so I imagine it must have 
been he.' 

' Did he look promising ? ' inquired Agnes. 

' I don't think I noticed,' said Catherine simply, but 
with a momentary change of expression. The. sisters, 
remembering how she had come in upon them with 
that look of one 'lifted up,' understood why she had 
not noticed, and refrained from further questions. 

'Well, it is to be hoped the young man is recovered 
enough to stand Long Whindale festivities,' said Rose. 

[ 18 ] 


'Mrs. Thornburgh means to let them loose on his de- 
voted head to-morrow night/ 

'Who are coming?' asked Mrs. Leyburn eagerly. 
The occasional tea-parties of the neighbourhood were 
an unfailing excitement to her, simply because, by 
dint of the small adornings, natural to the occasion, 
they showed her daughters to her under slightly new 
aspects. To see Catherine, who never took any thought 
for her appearance, forced to submit to a white dress, a 
line of pearls round the shapely throat, a flower in the 
brown hair, put there by Rose's imperious fingers; to 
sit in a corner well out of draughts, watching the effect 
of Rose's half-fledged beauty, and drinking in the 
compliments of the neighbourhood on Rose's playing 
or Agnes 's conversation, or Catherine's practical abil- 
ity these were Mrs. Ley burn's passions, and a tea- 
party always gratified them to the full. 

1 Mamma asks as if really she wanted an answer/ 
remarked Agnes drily. 'Dear mother, can't you by 
now make up a tea-party at the Thornburghs out of 
your head?' 

' The Seatons ? ' inquired Mrs. Leyburn. 

'Mrs. Sea ton and Miss Barks,' replied Rose. 'The 
rector won't come. And I need n't say that, having 
moved heaven and earth to get Mrs. Seaton, Mrs. 
Thornburgh is now miserable because she has got her. 
Her ambition is gratified, but she knows that she has 
spoilt the party. Well, then, Mr. Mayhew, of course, 
his son, and his flute/ 

'You to play his accompaniments?' put in Agnes 
slily. Rose's lip curled. 

'Not if Miss Barks knows it,' she said emphatically, 
[ 19 ] 


'nor if I know it. The Bakers, of course, ourselves, and 
the unknown/ 

'Dr. Baker is always pleasant/ said Mrs. Leyburn, 
leaning back and drawing her white shawl languidly 
round her. ' He told me the other day, Catherine, that 
if it were n't for you he should have to retire. He re- 
gards you as his junior partner. " Marvellous nursing 
gift your eldest daughter has, Mrs. Leyburn/' he said 
to me the other day. A most agreeable man/ 

' I wonder if I shall be able to get any candid opin- 
ions out of Mr. Elsmere the day after to-morrow? ' said 
Rose, musing. ' It is difficult to avoid having an opin- 
ion of some sort about Mrs. Sea ton/ 

'Oxford dons don't gossip, and are never candid,' 
remarked Agnes severely. 

'Then Oxford dons must be very dull/ cried Rose. 
'However/ and her countenance brightened, 'if he 
stays here four weeks we can teach him/ 

Catherine, meanwhile, sat watching the two girls 
with a soft elder sister's indulgence. Was it in connex- 
ion with their bright attractive looks that the thought 
flitted through her head, ' I wonder what the young 
man will be like?' 

' Oh, by the way/ said Rose presently, ' I had nearly 
forgotten Mrs. Thornburgh'stwo messages. I informed 
her, Agnes, that you had given up water-colour and 
meant to try oils, and she told me to implore you not 
to, because "water-colour is so much more lady-like 
than oils." And as for you, Catherine, she sent you a 
most special message. I was to tell you that she just 
loved the way you had taken to plaiting your hair 
lately that it was exactly like the picture of Jeanie 

[ 20 ] 


Deans she has in the drawing-room, and that she 
would never forgive you if you did n't plait it so 
to-morrow night/ 

Catherine flushed faintly as she got up from the 

'Mrs. Thornburgh has eagle-eyes/ she said, moving 
away to give her arm to her mother, who looked fondly 
at her, making some remark in praise of Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh's taste. 

' Rose ! ' cried Agnes indignantly, when the other two 
had disappeared, 'you and Mrs. Thornburgh have not 
the sense you were born with. What on earth did you 
say that to Catherine for ? ' 

Rose stared ; then her face fell a little. 

'I suppose it was foolish/ she admitted. Then she 
leant her head on one hand and drew meditative 
patterns on the tablecloth with the other. ' You know, 
Agnes/ she said presently, looking up, 'there are 
drawbacks to having a St. Elizabeth for a sister/ 

Agnes discreetly made no reply, and Rose was left 
alone. She sat dreaming a few minutes, the corners of 
the red mouth drooping. Then she sprang up with 
a long sigh. 'A little life!' she said half-aloud, 'a little 
wickedness !' and she shook her curly head defiantly. 

A few minutes later, in the little drawing-room on 
the other side of the hall, Catherine and Rose stood 
together by the open window. For the first time in a 
lingering spring, the air was soft and balmy ; a tender 
greyness lay over the valley ; it was not night, though 
above the clear outlines of the fell the stars were just 
twinkling in the pale blue. Far away under the crag 
on the farther side of High Fell a light was shining. 


As Catherine's eyes caught it there was a quick re- 
sponse in the fine Madonna-like face. 

'Any news for me from the Backhouses this after- 
noon? ' she asked Rose. 

'No, I heard of none. How is she ?' 

' Dying/ said Catherine simply, and stood a moment 
looking out. Rose did not interrupt her. She knew 
that the house from which the light was shining shel- 
tered a tragedy; she guessed with the vagueness of 
nineteen that it was a tragedy of passion and sin ; but 
Catherine had not been communicative on the subject, 
and Rose had for some time past set up a dumb re- 
sistance to her sister's most characteristic ways of life 
and thought, which prevented her now from asking 
questions. She wished nervously to give Catherine's 
extraordinary moral strength no greater advantage 
over her than she could help. 

Presently, however, Catherine threw her arm round 
her with a tender protectingness. 

'What did you do with yourself all the afternoon, 

'I practised for two hours,' said the girl shortly, 
'and two hours this morning. My Spohr is nearly 

'And you didn't look into the school?' asked 
Catherine, hesitating; 'I know Miss Merry expected 

' No, I did n't. When one can play the violin and 
can't teach, any more than a cockatoo, what's the 
good of wasting one's time in teaching?' 

Catherine did not reply. A minute after Mrs. Ley- 
burn called her, and she went to sit on a stool at her 


mother's feet, her hands resting on the elder woman's 
lap, the whole attitude of the tall active figure one of 
beautiful and childlike abandonment. Mrs. Leyburn 
wanted to confide in her about a new cap, and Cath- 
erine took up the subject with a zest which kept her 
mother happy till bedtime. 

'Why could n't she take as much interest in my 
Spohr?' thought Rose. 

Late that night, long after she had performed all a 
maid's offices for her mother, Catherine Leyburn was 
busy in her own room arranging a large cupboard con- 
taining medicines and ordinary medical necessaries, 
a storehouse whence all the simpler emergencies of 
their end of the valley were supplied. She had put on 
a white flannel dressing-gown and moved noiselessly 
about in it, the very embodiment of order, of purity, 
of quiet energy. The little white-curtained room was 
bareness and neatness itself. There were a few book- 
shelves along the walls, holding the books which her 
father had given her. Over the bed were two enlarged 
portraits of her parents, and a line of queer little faded 
monstrosities, representing Rose and Agnes in differ- 
ent stages of childhood. On the table beside the bed 
was a pile of well-worn books Keble, Jeremy Taylor, 
the Bible connected in the mind of the mistress of 
the room with the intensest moments of the spiritual 
life. There was a strip of carpet by the bed, a plain 
chair or two, a large press; otherwise no furniture 
that was not absolutely necessary, and no ornaments. 
And yet, for all its emptiness, the little room in its 
order and spotlessness had the look and spell of a sanc- 

[ 23 ] 


' When her task was finished Catherine came forward 
to the infinitesimal dressing-table, and stood a moment 
before the common cottage looking-glass upon it. The 
candle behind her showed her the outlines of her head 
and face in shadow against the white ceiling. Her soft 
brown hair was plaited high above the broad white 
brow, giving to it an added stateliness, while it left 
unmasked the pure lines of the neck. Mrs. Thornburgh 
and her mother were quite right. Simple as the new 
arrangement was, it could hardly have been more 

But the looking-glass got no smile in return for its 
information. Catherine Ley burn was young; she was 
alone ; she was being very plainly told that, taken as a 
whole, she was, or might be at any moment, a beautiful 
woman. And all her answer was a frown and a quick 
movement away from the glass. Putting up her hands 
she began to undo the plaits with haste, almost with 
impatience ; she smoothed the whole mass then set free 
into the severest order, plaited it closely together, and 
then, putting out her light, threw herself on her knees 
beside the window, which was partly open to the star- 
light and the mountains. The voice of the river far 
away, wafted from the mist-covered depths of the 
valley, and the faint rustling of the trees just outside, 
were for long after the only sounds which broke the 

When Catherine appeared at breakfast next morn- 
ing her hair was plainly gathered into a close knot 
behind, which had been her way of dressing it since she 
was thirteen. Agnes threw a quick look at Rose ; Mrs. 
Leyburn, as soon as she had made out through her 

[ 24 ] 


spectacles what was the matter, broke into warm 

'It is more comfortable, dear mother, and takes 
much less time/ said Catherine, reddening. 

'Poor Mrs. Thornburgh ! ' remarked Agnes drily. 

'Oh, Rose will make up!' said Catherine, glancing, 
not without a spark of mischief in her grey eyes, at 
Rose's tortured locks; 'and mamma's new cap, which 
will be superb ! 


ABOUT four o'clock on the afternoon of the day 
which was to be marked in the annals of Long Whin- 
dale as that of Mrs. Thornburgh's 'high tea/ that 
lady was seated in the vicarage garden, her spectacles 
on her nose, a large couvre-pied over her knees, and 
the Whinborough newspaper on her lap. The neigh- 
bourhood of this last enabled her to make an inter- 
mittent pretence of reading; but in reality the ener- 
gies of her housewifely mind were taken up with quite 
other things. The vicar's wife was plunged in a 
housekeeping experiment of absorbing interest. All 
her solid preparations for the evening were over, and 
in her own mind she decided that with them there was 
no possible fault to be found. The cook, Sarah, had 
gone about her work in a spirit at once lavish and 
fastidious, breathed into her by her mistress. No bet- 
ter tongue, no plumper chickens, than those which 
would grace her board to-night were to be found, so 
Mrs. Thornburgh was persuaded, in the district. And 
so with everything else of a substantial kind. On this 
head the hostess felt no anxieties. 

But a ' tea ' in the North-country depends for dis- 
tinction, not on its solids or its savouries, but on its 
sweets. A rural hostess earns her reputation, not by 
a discriminating eye for butcher 's-meat, but by her 
inventiveness in cakes and custards. And it was just 
here, with regard to this 'bubble reputation/ that the 
[ 26 ] 


vicar's wife of Long Whindale was particularly sens- 
itive. Was she not expecting Mrs. Seaton, the wife 
of the Rector of Whinborough odious woman to 
tea? Was it not incumbent on her to do well, nay, to 
do brilliantly, in the eyes of this local magnate? And 
how was it possible to do brilliantly in this matter 
with a cook whose recipes were hopelessly old-fash- 
ioned, and who had an exasperating belief in the suffi- 
ciency of buttered ' whigs' and home-made marmalade 
for all requirements ? 

Stung by these thoughts, Mrs. Thornburgh had gone 
prowling about the neighbouring town of Whinborough 
till the shop-window of a certain newly-arrived con- 
fectioner had been revealed to her, stored with the 
most airy and appetising trifles of a make and 
colouring quite metropolitan. She had flattened her 
grey curls against the window for one deliberative mo- 
ment ; had then rushed in ; and as soon as the carrier's 
cart of Long Whindale, which she was now anxiously 
awaiting, should have arrived, bearing with it the 
produce of that adventure, Mrs. Thornburgh would 
be a proud woman, prepared to meet a legion of rec- 
tors' wives without flinching. Not, indeed, in all re- 
spects a woman at peace with herself and the world. 
In the country, where every household should be self- 
contained, a certain discredit attaches in every well- 
regulated mind to 'getting things in/ Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh was also nervous at the thought of the bill. It 
would have to be met gradually out of the weekly 
money. For 'William* was to know nothing of the 
matter, except so far as a few magnificent generalities 
and the testimony of his own dazzled eyes might in- 
[ 27 ] 


form him. But after all, in this as in everything else, 
one must suffer to be distinguished. 

The carrier, however, lingered. And at last the 
drowsiness of the afternoon overcame even those 
pleasing expectations we have described, and Mrs. 
Thornburgh 's newspaper dropped unheeded to her 
feet. The vicarage, under the shade of which she was 
sitting, was a new grey stone building with wooden 
gables, occupying the site of what had once been the 
earlier vicarage house of Long Whindale, the primitive 
dwelling-house of an incumbent, whose chapelry, 
after sundry augmentations, amounted to just 
twenty-seven pounds a year. The modern house, 
though it only contained sufficient accommodation 
for Mr. and Mrs. Thornburgh, one guest, and two 
maids, would have seemed palatial to those rustic 
clerics of the past from whose ministrations the lonely 
valley had drawn its spiritual sustenance in times gone 
by. They, indeed, had belonged to another race a 
race sprung from the soil and content to spend the 
whole of life in very close contact and very homely 
intercourse with their mother earth. Mr. Thornburgh, 
who had come to the valley only a few years before 
from a parish in one of the large manufacturing towns, 
and who had no inherited interest in the Cumbrian folk 
and their ways, had only a very faint idea, and that 
a distinctly depreciatory one, of what these mythical 
predecessors of his, with their strange social status 
and unbecoming occupations, might be like. But there 
were one or two old men still lingering in the dale who 
could have told him a great deal about them, whose 
memory went back to the days when the relative social 
[ 28 ] 

The Vicarage of Long Whindale 

**r . - 

i&A&tiLL^ **. >i&&&t 


importance of the dale parsons was exactly expressed 
by the characteristic Westmoreland saying : ' Ef ye '11 
nobbut send us a gude schulemeaster, a verra' moder- 
ate parson 'ull dea!' and whose slow minds, therefore, 
were filled with a strong inarticulate sense of differ- 
ence as they saw him pass along the road, and recalled 
the incumbent of their childhood, dropping in for his 
' crack ' and his glass of ' yale ' at this or that farmhouse 
on any occasion of local festivity, or driving his sheep 
to Whinborough market with his own hands like any 
other peasant of the dale. 

Within the last twenty years, however, the few re- 
maining survivors of this primitive clerical order in 
the Westmoreland and Cumberland valleys have 
dropped into their quiet unremembered graves, and 
new men of other ways and other modes of speech 
reign in their stead. And as at Long Whindale, so al- 
most everywhere, the change has been emphasised by 
the disappearance of the old parsonage houses with 
their stone floors, their parlours lustrous with oak 
carving on chest or dresser, and their encircling farm- 
buildings and meadows, in favour of an upgrowth of 
new trim mansions designed to meet the needs, not 
of peasants, but of gentlefolks. 

And naturally the churches too have shared in the 
process of transformation. The ecclesiastical revival 
of the last half-century has worked its will even in the 
remotest corners of the Cumbrian country, and soon 
not a vestige of the homely worshipping-places of 
an earlier day will remain. Across the road, in front 
of the long Whindale parsonage, for instance, rose a 
freshly built church, also peaked and gabled, with 
[ 29 ] 


a spire and two bells, and a painted east window, and 
Heaven knows what novelties besides. The primitive 
whitewashed structure it replaced had lasted long, and 
in the course of many generations time had clothed its 
moss-grown walls, its slated porch, and tombstones 
worn with rain in a certain beauty of congruity and 
association, linking it with the purple distances of the 
fells, and the brawling river bending round the grey 
enclosure. But finally, after a period of quiet and 
gradual decay, the ruin of Long Whindale chapel had 
become a quick and hurrying ruin that would not be 
arrested. When the rotten timbers of the roof came 
. dropping on the farmers' heads, and the oak benches 
beneath offered gaps, the geography of which had to 
be carefully learnt by the substantial persons who 
sat on them, lest they should be overtaken by undig- 
nified disaster ; when the rain poured in on the Com- 
munion Table and the wind raged through innumer- 
able mortarless chinks, even the slowly-moving folk 
of the valley came to the conclusion that 'summat 'ull 
hev to be deun/ And by the help of the Bishop, and 
Queen Anne's Bounty, and what not, aided by just 
as many half-crowns as the valley found itself un- 
able to defend against the encroachments of a new 
and 'moiderin' parson, 'summat' was done, whereof 
the results namely, the new church, vicarage, and 
schoolhouse were now conspicuous. 

This radical change, however, had not been the work 
of Mr. Thornburgh, but of his predecessor, a much 
more pushing and enterprising man, whose successful 
efforts to improve the church accommodation in Long 
Whindale had moved such deep and lasting astonish- 

[ 30 ] 


ment in the mind of a somewhat lethargic bishop, that 
promotion had been readily found for him. Mr. 
Thornburgh was neither capable of the sturdy begging 
which had raised the church, nor was he likely on 
other lines to reach preferment. He and his wife, who 
possessed much more salience of character than he, 
were accepted in the dale as belonging to the estab- 
lished order of things. Nobody wished them any harm, , 
and the few people they had specially befriended, 
naturally, thought well of them. 

But the old intimacy of relation which had once 
subsisted between the clergyman of Long Whindale r^ 
and his parishioners was wholly gone. They had sunk 
in the scale ; the parson had risen. The old statesmen 
or peasant proprietors of the valley had for the most 
part succumbed to various destructive influences, 
some social, some economical, added to a certain 
amount of corrosion from within ; and their place had 
been taken by leaseholders, less drunken perhaps, 
and better educated, but also far less shrewd and in- 
dividual, and lacking in the rude dignity of their pre- 

And as the land had lost, the church had gained. 
The place of the dalesmen knew them no more, but 
the church and parsonage had got themselves rebuilt, 
the parson had had his income raised, had let off his 
glebe to a neighbouring farmer, kept two maids, and 
drank claret when he drank anything. His flock were 
friendly enough, and paid their commuted tithes 
without grumbling. But between them and a per- 
fectly well-meaning but rather dull man, who stood 
on his dignity, and wore a black coat all the week, 
[ 31 ] 


there was no reaLcommunity. Rejoice in it as we may, 
in this final passage of Parson Primrose to social re- 
gions beyond the ken of Farmer Flamborough, there 
are some elements of loss as there are in all changes. 

Wheels on the road! Mrs. Thornburgh woke up 
with a start, and stumbling over newspaper and 
couvre-pied, hurried across the lawn as fast as her 
short squat figure would allow, grey curls and cap- 
strings flying behind her. She heard a colloquy in the 
distance in broad Westmoreland dialect, and as she 
turned the corner of the house she nearly ran into 
her tall cook, Sarah, whose impassive and saturnine 
countenance bore traces of unusual excitement. 

' Missis, there 's naw cakes. They 're all left behind on 
t' counter at Randall's. Mr. Backhouse says as how 
he told old Jim to go fur 'em, and he niver went, and 
Mr. Backhouse he niver found oot till he'd got past 
t' bridge, and than it wur too late to go back/ 

Mrs. Thornburgh stood transfixed, something of 
her fresh pink colour slowly deserting her face as she 
realised the enormity of the catastrophe. And was it 
possible that there was the faintest twinkle of grim 
satisfaction on the face of that elderly minx, Sarah ? 

Mrs. Thornburgh, however, did not stay to explore 
the recesses of Sarah's mind, but ran with little patter- 
ing, undignified steps across the front garden and 
down the steps to where Mr. Backhouse the carrier 
stood, bracing himself for self-defence. 

'Ya may weel fret, mum/ said Mr. Backhouse, in- 
terrupting the flood of her reproaches, with the com- 
parative sang-froid of one who knew that, after all, he 
was the only carrier on the road, and that the vicar- 

[ 32 ] 


age was five miles from the necessaries of life; 'it's a 
bad job, and I's not goin' to say it is n't. But ya jest 
look 'ere, mum, what's a man to du wi' a daft thing- 
amy like that, as caan't teak a plain order, and spiles 
a poor man's business as caan't help hissel'?' 

And Mr. Backhouse pointed with withering scorn 
to a small, shrunken old man, who sat dangling his 
legs on the shaft of the cart, and whose countenance 
wore a singular expression of mingled meekness and 
composure, as his partner flourished an indignant 
finger towards him. 

'Jim,' cried Mrs. Thornburgh reproachfully, 'I did 
think you would have taken more pains about my 

'Yis, mum,' said the old man placidly, 'ya might 
V thowt it. I's reet sorry, bit ya caan't help these 
things sumtimes an* it's naw gud a-hollerin' ower 
'em like a mad bull. Aa tuke yur bit paper to Ran- 
dall's and aa laft it wi' 'em to mek up, an' than, aa, 
weel, aa went to a frind, an' ee may hev giv' me a glass 
of yale, aa doon't say ee dud but ee may, I ween't 
sweer. Hawsomiver, aa niver thowt naw mair aboot 
it, nor mair did John, so ee need n't taak till we 
wur jest two mile from 'ere. An' ee 's a gon' on sence ! 
My ! an' a larroping the poor beeast like ony thing ! ' 

Mrs. Thornburgh stood aghast at the calmness of 
this audacious recital. As for John, he looked on, 
surveying his brother's philosophical demeanour at 
first with speechless wrath, and then with an inscrut- 
able mixture of expressions, in which, however, any 
one accustomed to his weather-beaten countenance 
would have probably read a hidden admiration. 
[ 33 ] 


' Weel, aa niver !' he exclaimed, when Jim's explana- 
tory remarks had come to an end, swinging himself up 
on to his seat and gathering up the reins. ' Yur a boald 
'un to tell the missus theer to hur feeace as how ya wur 
'tossicatit whan yur owt ta been duing yur larf ul busi- 
ness. Aa ' ve doon wi 'yer. Aa aims to please ma coos- 
tomers, an* aa caan't abide sek wark. Yur like an oald 
kneyfe, I can mak' nowt o' ya', nowder back nor edge.' 

Mrs. Thornburgh wrung her fat short hands in de- 
spair, making little incoherent laments and suggestions 
as she saw him about to depart, of which John at 
last gathered the main purport to be that she wished 
him to go back to Whinborough for her precious parcel. 

He shook his head compassionately over the pre- 
posterous state of mind betrayed by such a demand, 
and with a fresh burst of abuse of his brother, and an 
assurance to the vicar's wife that he meant to 'gie 
that oald man nawtice when he got haum ; he was n't 
goan to hevhis bisness spiled for nowt by an oald ijiot 
wi' a hed as full o' yale as a hayrick 's full o' mice,' 
he raised his whip and the clattering vehicle moved 
forward; Jim meanwhile preserving through all his 
brother's wrath and Mrs. Thornburgh 's wailings the 
same mild and even countenance, the meditative and 
friendly aspect of the philosopher letting the world 
go 'as e'en it will.' 

So Mrs. Thornburgh was left gasping, watching the 
progress of the lumbering cart along the bit of road 
leading to the hamlet at the head of the valley, with 
so limp and crestfallen an aspect that even the gaunt 
and secretly jubilant Sarah was moved to pity. 

'Why, missis, we'll do very well. I'll hev some 
[ 34 ] 


scones in t' oven in naw time, an' theer's finger bis- 
cuits, an' wi' buttered toast an' sum o' t' best jams, 
if they don't hev enuf to eat they ought to.' Then, 
dropping her voice, she asked with a hurried change 
of tone, 'Did ye ask un' hoo his daater is?' 

Mrs. Thornburgh started. Her pastoral conscience 
was smitten. She opened the gate and waved violently 
after the cart. John pulled his horse up, and with a 
few quick steps she brought herself within speaking, 
or rather shouting, distance. 

' How 's your daughter to-day, John ? ' 

The old man's face peering round the oilcloth hood 
of the cart was darkened by a sudden cloud as he 
caught the words. His stern lips closed. He muttered 
something inaudible to Mrs. Thornburgh and whipped 
up his horse again. The cart started off, and Mrs. 
Thornburgh was left staring into the receding eyes 
of 'Jim the Noodle,' who, from his seat on the near 
shaft, regarded her with a gaze which had passed 
from benevolence into a preternatural solemnity. 

'He's sparin' ov 'is speach is John Backhouse/ 
said Sarah grimly, as her mistress returned to her. 
'Maybe ee 's aboot reet. It's a bad business an' ee'll 
not mend it wi' taakinV 

Mrs. Thornburgh, however, could not apply herself 
to the case of Mary Backhouse. At any other mo- 
ment it would have excited in her breast the shudder- 
ing interest which, owing to certain peculiar attendant 
circumstances, it awakened in every other woman in 
Long Whindale. But her mind such are the limita- 
tions of even clergymen's wives was now absorbed 
by her own misfortune. Her very cap-strings seemed 

[ 35 ] 


to hang limp with depression, as she followed Sarah 
dejectedly into the kitchen, and gave what attention 
she could to those second-best arrangements so de- 
pressing to the idealist temper. 

Poor soul ! All the charm and glitter of her little 
social adventure was gone. When she once more 
emerged upon the lawn, and languidly readjusted 
her spectacles, she was weighed down by the thought 
that in two hours Mrs. Seaton would be upon her. 
Nothing of this kind ever happened to Mrs. Seaton. 
The universe obeyed her nod. No carrier conveying 
goods to her august door ever got drunk or failed to 
deliver his consignment. The thing was inconceivable. 
Mrs. Thornburgh was well aware of it. 

Should William be informed? Mrs. Thornburgh had 
a rooted belief in the brutality of husbands in all do- 
mestic crises, and would have preferred not to inform 
him. But she had also a dismal certainty that the 
secret would burn a hole in her till it was confessed 
bill and all. Besides frightful thought ! would 
they have to eat up all those meringues next day? 

Her reflections at last became so depressing that, 
with a natural epicurean instinct, she tried violently 
to turn her mind away from them. Luckily she was 
assisted by a sudden perception of the roof and chim- 
neys of Burwood, the Leyburns' house, peeping above 
the trees to the left. At sight of them a smile over- 
spread her plump and gently wrinkled face. She fell 
gradually into a train of thought, as feminine as that 
in which she had been just indulging, but infinitely 
more pleasing. 

For, with regard to the Leyburns, at this present 
[ 36 ] 


moment Mrs. Thornburgh felt herself in the great 
position of tutelary divinity or guardian angel. At 
least if divinities and guardian angels do not concern 
themselves with the questions to which Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh's mind was now addressed, it would clearly 
have been the opinion of the vicar's wife that they 
ought to do so. 

'Who else is there to look after these girls, I should 
like to know/ Mrs. Thornburgh inquired of herself, 
'if "I don't do it? As if girls married themselves ! Peo- 
ple may talk of their independence nowadays as much 
as they like it always has to be done for them, one 
way or another. Mrs. Leyburn, poor lackadaisical 
thing! is no good whatever. No more is Catherine. 
They both behave as if husbands tumbled into your 
mouth for the asking. Catherine 's too good for this 
world but if she does n't do it, I must. Why, that 
girl Rose is a beauty if they did n't let her wear 
those ridiculous mustard-coloured things, and do her 
hair fit to frighten the crows ! Agnes too so lady- 
like and well-mannered; she'd do credit to any man. 
Well, we shall see, we shall see ! ' 

And Mrs. Thornburgh gently shook her grey curls 
from side to side, while her eyes, fixed on the open 
spare-room window, shone with meaning. 

'So eligible, too private means, no encumbrances, 
and as good as gold.' 

She sat lost a moment in a pleasing dream. 

'Shall I bring oot the tea to you theer, mum?' called 
Sarah gruffly, from the garden-door. 'Master and Mr. 
Elsmere are just coomin' down t' field by t' stepping- 

[ 37 ] 


Mrs. Thornburgh signalled assent and the tea-table 
was brought. Afternoon tea was by no means a regular 
institution at the vicarage of Long Whindale, and 
Sarah never supplied it without signs of protest. But 
when a guest was in the house Mrs. Thornburgh in- 
sisted upon it; her obstinacy in the matter, like her 
dreams of cakes and confections, being all part of 
her determination to move with the times, in spite 
of the station to which Providence had assigned her. 

A minute afterwards the vicar, a thick-set grey- 
haired man of sixty, accompanied by a tall younger 
man in clerical dress, emerged upon the lawn. 

'Welcome sight!' cried Mr. Thornburgh; 'Robert 
and I have been coveting that tea for the last hour. 
You guessed very well, Emma, to have it just ready 
for us/ 

' Oh, that was Sarah. She saw you coming down to 
the stepping-stones/ replied his wife, pleased, however, 
by any mark of appreciation from her mankind, how- 
ever small. 'Robert, I hope you have n't been walked 
off your legs?' 

'What, in this air, Cousin Emma? I could walk 
from sunrise to sundown. Let no one call me an in- 
valid any more. Henceforth I am a Hercules/ 

And he threw himself on the rug which Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh's motherly providence had spread on the grass 
for him, with a smile and a look of supreme physical 
contentment, which did indeed almost efface the signs 
of recent illness in the ruddy boyish face. 

Mrs. Thornburgh studied him ; her eye caught first 
of all by the stubble of reddish hair which, as he took 
off his hat, stood up straight and stiff all over his head 

[ 38 ] 


with an odd wildness and aggressiveness. She invol- 
untarily thought, basing her inward comment on a 
complexity of reasons ' Dear me, what a pity ; it 
spoils his appearance!' 

' I apologise, I apologise, Cousin Emma, once for all/ 
said the young man, surprising her glance, and de- 
spairingly smoothing down his recalcitrant locks. ' Let 
us hope that mountain air will quicken the pace of 
it before it is necessary for me to present a dignified 
appearance at Murewell.' 

He looked up at her with a merry flash in his grey 
eyes, and her old face brightened visibly as she realised 
afresh that in spite of the grotesqueness of his cropped 
hair, her guest was a most attractive creature. Not 
that he could boast much in the way of regular good 
looks : the mouth was large, the nose of no particular 
outline, and in general the cutting of the face, though 
strong and characteristic, had a bluntness and naivett 
like a vigorous unfinished sketch. This bluntness 
of line, however, was balanced by a great delicacy of 
tint the pink-and-white complexion of a girl, indeed 
- enhanced by the bright reddish hair, and quick 
grey eyes. 

The figure was also a little out of drawing, so to 
speak; it was tall and loosely- jointed. The general 
impression was one of agility and power. But if you 
looked closer you saw that the shoulders were narrow, 
the arms inordinately long, and the extremities too 
small for the general height. Robert Elsmere's hand 
was the hand of a woman, and few people ever ex- 
changed a first greeting with its very tall owner with- 
out a little shock of surprise. 

[ 39 ] 


Mr. Thornburgh and his guest had visited a few 
houses in the course of their walk, and the vicar 
plunged for a minute or two into some conversation 
about local matters with his wife. But Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh, it was soon evident, Was giving him but a 
scatterbrained attention. Her secret was working in 
her ample breast. Very soon she could contain it no 
longer, and breaking in upon her husband's parish 
news, she tumbled it all out pell-mell, with a mixture 
of discomfiture and defiance infinitely diverting. She 
could not keep a secret, but she also could not bear to 
give William an advantage. 

William certainly took his advantage. He did what 
his wife in her irritation had precisely foreseen that 
he would do. He first stared, then fell into a guffaw 
of laughter, and as soon as he had recovered breath, 
into a series of unfeeling comments which drove Mrs. 
Thornburgh to desperation. 

'If you will set your mind, my dear, on things we 
plain folks can do perfectly well without' - - et cetera, 
et cetera the husband's point of view can be im- 
agined. Mrs. Thornburgh could have shaken her good 
man, especially as there was nothing new to her in his 
remarks; she had known to a T beforehand exactly 
what he would say. She took up her knitting in a great 
hurry, the needles clicking angrily, her grey curls 
quivering under the energy of her hands and arms, 
while she launched at her husband various retorts as 
to his lack of consideration for her efforts and her 
inconvenience, which were only very slightly modified 
by the presence of a stranger. 

Robert Elsmere meanwhile lay on the grass, his 
[ 40 ] 


face discreetly turned away, an uncontrollable smile 
twitching the corners of his mouth. Everything was 
fresh and piquant up here in this remote corner of 
the North -country, whether the mountain air or the 
wind-blown streams, or the manners and customs of 
the inhabitants. His cousin's wife, in spite of her 
ambitious conventionalities, was really the child of 
Nature to a refreshing degree. One does not see these 
types, he said to himself, in the cultivated monotony 
of Oxford or London. She was like a bit of a bygone 
world Miss Austen's or Miss Ferrier's unearthed 
for his amusement. He could not for the life of him 
help taking the scenes of this remote rural existence, 
which was quite new to him, as though they were the 
scenes of some comedy of manners. 

Presently, however, the vicar became aware that 
the passage of arms between himself and his spouse 
was becoming just a little indecorous. He got up 
with a ' Hem ! ' intended to put an end to it, and de- 
posited his cup. 

' Well, my dear, have it as you please. It all comes 
of your determination to have Mrs. Seaton. Why 
could n't you just ask the Leyburns and let us enjoy 

With this final shaft he departed to see that Jane, 
the little maid whom Sarah ordered about, had not, 
in cleaning the study for the evening's festivities, put 
his last sermon into the waste-paper basket. His wife 
looked after him with eyes that spoke unutterable 

' You would never think, ' she said in an agitated voice 
to young Elsmere, 'that I had consulted Mr. Thorn- 
[ 41 ] 


burgh as to every invitation, that he entirely agreed 
with me that one must be civil to Mrs. Seaton, con- 
sidering that she can make anybody's life a burden to 
them about here that is n't; but it's no use/ 

And she fell back on her knitting with redoubled 
energy, her face full of a half -tearful intensity of mean- 
ing. Robert Elsmere restrained a strong inclination to 
laugh, and set himself instead to distract and console 
her. He expressed sympathy with her difficulties, he 
talked to her about her party, he got from her the 
names and histories of the guests. How Miss Austen- 
ish it sounded : the managing rector's wife, her still 
more managing old maid of a sister, the neighbouring 
clergyman who played the flute, the local doctor, and 
a pretty daughter just out ' Very pretty, ' sighed Mrs. 
Thornburgh, who was now depressed all round, 'but 
all flounces and frills and nothing to say ' and last 
of all, those three sisters, the Ley burns, who seemed 
to be on a different level, and whom he had heard 
mentioned so often since his arrival by both husband 
and wife. 

'Tell me about the Miss Leyburns/hesaid presently. 
' You and Cousin William seem to have a great affection 
for them. Do they live near?' 

'Oh, quite close,' cried Mrs. Thornburgh, brighten- 
ing at last, and like a great general, leaving one 
scheme in ruins, only the more ardently to take up 
another. 'There is the house,' and she pointed out 
Burwood among its trees. Then with her eye eagerly 
fixed upon him, she fell into a more or less incoherent 
account of her favourites. She laid on her colours 
thickly, and Elsmere at once assumed extravagance. 


'A saint, a beauty, and a wit all to yourselves in 
these wilds ! ' he said, laughing. ' What luck ! But what 
on earth brought them here a widow and three 
daughters from the South? It was an odd settle- 
ment surely, though you have one of the loveliest 
valleys and the purest airs in England/ 

'Oh, as to lovely valleys/ said Mrs. Thornburgh, 
sighing, ' I think it very dull ; I always have. When 
one has to depend for everything on a carrier that gets 
drunk, too ! Why, you know they belong here. They 're 
real Westmoreland people.' 

'What does that mean exactly?' 

'Oh, their grandfather was a farmer, just like one 
of the common farmers about. Only his land was his 
own, and theirs is n't.' 

' He was one of the last of the statesmen,' interposed 
Mr. Thornburgh who, having rescued his sermon 
from Jane's tender mercies, and put out his modest 
claret and sherry for the evening, had strolled out 
again and found himself impelled as usual to put some 
precision into his wife's statements ' one of the small 
freeholders who have almost disappeared here as 
elsewhere. The story of the Leyburns always seems 
to me typical of many things.' 

Robert looked inquiry, and the vicar, sitting down 
- having first picked up his wife's ball of wool as a 
peace-offering, which was loftily accepted launched 
into a narrative which may be here somewhat con- 

The Leyburns' grandfather, it appeared, had been 
a typical North-country peasant honest, with strong 
passions both of love and hate, thinking nothing of 
[.43 ] 


knocking down his wife with the poker, and frugal in 
all things save drink. Drink, however, was ultimately 
his ruin, as it was the ruin of most of the Cumberland 
statesmen. 'The people about here/ said the vicar, 
'say he drank away an acre a year. He had some fifty 
acres, and it took about thirty years to beggar him.' 

Meanwhile, this brutal, rollicking, strong-natured 
person had sons and daughters plenty of them. 
Most of them, even the daughters, were brutal and 
rollicking too. Of one of the daughters, now dead, it 
was reported that, having on one occasion discovered 
her father, then an old infirm man, sitting calmly by 
the fire beside the prostrate form of his wife, whom 
he had just felled with his crutch, she had taken off 
her wooden shoe and given her father a clout on the 
head, which left his grey hair streaming with blood ; 
after which she had calmly put the horse into the cart, 
and driven off to fetch the doctor to both her parents. 
But among this grim and earthy crew there was one 
exception, a 'hop out of kin/ of whom all the rest made 
sport. This was the second son, Richard, who showed 
such a persistent tendency to 'book-larnin'/ and such 
a persistent idiocy in all matters pertaining to the 
land, that nothing was left to the father at last but 
to send him with many oaths to the grammar-school 
at Whinborough. From the moment the boy got a 
footing in the school he hardly cost his father an- 
other penny. He got a local bursary which paid his 
school expenses, he never missed a remove or failed 
to gain a prize, and finally won a close scholarship 
which carried him triumphantly to Queen's College. 

His family watched his progress with a gaping, 
[ 44.] 


half -contemptuous amazement, till he announced him- 
self as safely installed at Oxford, having borrowed 
from a Whinborough patron the modest sum neces- 
sary to pay his college valuation a sum which wild 
horses could not have dragged out of his father, now 
sunk over head and ears in debt and drink. 

From that moment they practically lost sight of 
him. He sent the class list which contained his name 
among the Firsts to his father; in the same way he 
communicated the news of his Fellowship at Queen's, 
his ordination and his appointment to the headmaster- 
ship of a South -country grammar-school. None of his 
communications were ever answered till, in the very 
last year of his father's life, the eldest son, who had 
a shrewder eye all round to the main chance than 
the rest, applied to 'Dick' for cash wherewith to 
meet some of the family necessities. The money was 
promptly sent, together with photographs of Dick's 
wife and children. These last were not taken much 
notice of. These Leyburns were a hard, limited, in- 
curious set, and they no longer regarded Dick as one 
of themselves. 

'Then came the old man's death,' said Mr. Thorn- 
burgh. ' It happened the year after I took the living. 
Richard Leyburn was sent for and came. I never 
saw such a scene in my life as the funeral supper. It 
was kept up in the old style. Three of Ley burn's 
sons were there : two of them farmers like himself, one 
a clerk from Manchester, a daughter married to a 
tradesman in Whinborough, a brother of the old man, 
who was under the table before supper was half over, 
and so on. Richard Leyburn wrote to ask me to 
[ 45 ] 


come, and I went to support his cloth. But I was new 
to the place/ said the vicar, flushing a little, 'and they 
belonged to a race that had never been used to pay 
much respect to parsons. To see that man among the 
rest ! He was thin and dignified ; he looked to me as if 
he had all the learning imaginable, and he had large, 
absent-looking eyes, which, as George, the eldest bro- 
ther, said, gave you the impression of some one that 
"had lost somethin' when he was nobbut a lad, and 
had gone seekin' it iver sence." He was formidable 
to me ; but between us we could n't keep the rest of 
the party in order, so when the orgie had gone on a 
certain time, we left it and went out into the air. It 
was an August night. I remember Leyburn threw 
back his head and drank it in. "I have n't breathed 
this air for five-and-twenty years, " he said. " I thought 
I hated the place, and in spite of that drunken crew 
in there, it draws me to it like a magnet. I feel, after 
all, that I have the fells in my blood. " He was a curi- 
ous man, a refined-looking melancholy creature, with 
a face that reminded you of Wordsworth, and cold 
donnish ways, except to his children and the poor. 
I always thought his life had disappointed him some- 

'Yet one would think/ said Robert, opening his 
eyes, 'that he had made a very considerable success 
of it!' 

'Well, I don't know how it was/ said the vicar, 
whose analysis of character never went very far. 
'Anyhow, next day he went peering about the place 
and the mountains and the lands his father had lost. 
And George, the eldest brother, who had inherited 

[ 46 ] 


the farm, watched him without a word, in the way 
these Westmoreland folk have, and at last offered him 
what remained of the place for a fancy price. I told 
him it was a preposterous sum, but he would n't bar- 
gain. " I shall bring my wife and children here in the 
holidays," he said, "and the money will set George up 
in California." So he paid through the nose, and got 
possession of the old house, in which, I should think, 
he had passed about as miserable a childhood as it- 
was possible to pass. There 's no accounting for tastes.' 

'And then the next summer they all came down/ 
interrupted Mrs. Thornburgh. She disliked a long 
story as she disliked being read aloud to. 'Catherine 
was fifteen, not a bit like a child. You used to see her 
everywhere with her father. To my mind he was al- 
ways exciting her brain too much, but he was a man 
you could not say a word to. I don't care what William 
says about his being like Wordsworth; he just gave 
you the blues to look at.' 

'It was so strange/ said the vicar meditatively, 
'to see them in that house. If you knew the things 
that used to go on there in old days the savages 
that lived there. And then to see those three delicately 
brought-up children going in and out of the parlour 
where old Ley burn used to sit smoking and. drinking; 
and Dick Leyburn walking about in a white tie, and 
the same men touching their hats to him who had be- 
laboured him when he was a boy at the village school 
-it was queer/ 

'A curious little bit of social history/ said Elsmere. 
* Well, and then he died and the family lived on?' 

'Yes, he died the year after he bought the place. 
[ 47 ] 


And perhaps the most interesting thing of all has been 
the development of his eldest daughter. She has 
watched over her mother, she has brought up her 
sisters ; but much more than that : she has become 
a sort of Deborah in these valleys/ said the vicar, 
smiling. 'I don't count for much, she counts for a 
great deal. I can't get the people to tell me their 
secrets, she can. There is a sort of natural sympathy 
between them and her. She nurses them, she scolds 
them, she preaches to them, and they take it from 
her when they won't take it from us. Perhaps it is 
the feeling of blood. Perhaps they think it as myste- 
rious a dispensation of Providence as I do that that 
brutal, swearing, whiskey-drinking stock should have 
ended in anything so saintly and so beautiful as 
Catherine Ley burn/ 

The quiet, commonplace clergyman spoke with a 
sudden tremor of feeling. His wife, however, looked 
at him with a dissatisfied expression. 

'You always talk/ she said, 'as if there were no one 
but Catherine. People generally like the other two 
much better. Catherine is so stand-off/ 

'Oh, the other two are very well/ said the vicar, 
but in a different tone. 

Robert sat ruminating. Presently his host and 
hostess went in, and the young man went sauntering 
up the climbing garden-path to the point where only a 
railing divided it from the fellside. From here his eye 
commanded the whole of the upper end of the valley 
- a bare, desolate recess filled with evening shadow, 
and walled round by masses of grey and purple crag, 
except in one spot, where a green intervening fell 

[ 48 ] 

The Church of Long Whindale 


marked the course of the pass connecting the dale with 
the Ullswater district. Below him were church and 
parsonage; beyond, the stone-filled babbling river, 
edged by intensely green fields, which melted imper- 
ceptibly into the browner stretches of the opposite 
mountain. Most of the scene, except where the hills 
at the end rose highest and shut out the sun, was 
bathed in quiet light. The white patches on the farm- 
houses, the heckberry trees along the river and the 
road, caught and emphasised the golden rays which 
were flooding into the lower valley as into a broad 
green cup. Close by, in the little vicarage orchard, 
were fruit trees in blossom ; the air was mild and fra- 
grant, though to the young man from the warmer 
South there was still a bracing quality in the soft 
western breeze which blew about him. 

He stood there bathed in silent enchantment, an 
eager nature going out to meet and absorb into itself 
the beauty and peace of the scene. Lines of Words- 
worth were on his lips ; the little well-worn volume was 
in his pocket, but he did not need to bring it out; 
and his voice had all a poet's intensity of emphasis 
as he strolled along, reciting under his breath 

' It is a beauteous evening, calm and free, 
The holy time is quiet as a nun 
Breathless with adoration ! ' 

Presently his eye was once more caught by the roof 
of Burwood, lying beneath him on its promontory of 
land, in the quiet shelter of its protecting trees. He 
stopped, and a delicate sense of harmonious associa- 
tion awoke in him. That girl, atoning as it were by her 
one white life for all the crimes and coarseness of her 
[ 49 ] 


ancestry: the idea of her seemed to steal into the 
solemn golden evening and give it added poetry and 
meaning. The young man felt a sudden strong curi- 
osity to see her. 


THE festal tea had begun, and Mrs. Thornburgh 
was presiding. Opposite to her, on the vicar's left, 
sat the formidable rector's wife. Poor Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh had said to herself as she entered the room on 
the arm of Mr. Mayhew, the incumbent of the neigh- 
bouring valley of Shanmoor, that the first coup d'ceil 
was good. The flowers had been arranged in the after- 
noon by Rose; Sarah's exertions had made the silver 
shine again ; a pleasing odour of good food underlay 
the scent of the bluebells and fern ; and what with the 
snowy table-linen, and the pretty dresses and bright 
faces of the younger people, the room seemed to be 
full of an incessant play of crisp and delicate colour. 
But just as the vicar's wife was sinking into her seat 
with a little sigh of wearied satisfaction, she caught 
sight suddenly of an eye-glass at the other end of the 
table slowly revolving in a large and jewelled hand. 
The judicial eye behind the eye-glass travelled round 
the table, lingering, as it seemed to Mrs. Thornburgh 's 
excited consciousness, on every spot where cream or 
jelly or meringue should have been and was not. When 
it dropped with a harsh little click, the hostess, unable 
to restrain herself, rushed into desperate conversation 
with Mr. Mayhew, giving vent to incoherences in the 
course of the first act of the meal which did but con- 
firm her neighbour a grim, uncommunicative per- 
son in his own devotion to a policy of silence. 
[ 51 ] 


Meanwhile the vicar was grappling on very unequal 
terms with Mrs. Seaton. Mrs. Leyburn had fallen to 
young Elsmere. Catherine Leyburn was paired off 
with Dr. Baker, Agnes with Mr. Mayhew's awkward 
son a tongue-tied youth, lately an unattached 
student at Oxford, but now relegated, owing to an 
invincible antipathy to Greek verbs, to his native air, 
till some other opening into the great world should 
be discovered for him. 

Rose was on Robert Elsmere's right. Agnes had 
coaxed her into a white dress as being the least start- 
ling garment she possessed, and she was like a Stot- 
hard picture with her high waist, her blue sash ribbon, 
her slender neck and brilliant head. She had already 
cast many curious glances at the Thornburghs' guest. 
'Not a prig, at any rate/ she thought to herself with 
satisfaction, 'so Agnes is quite wrong/ 

As for the young man, who was, to begin with, in 
that state which so often follows on the long confine- 
ment of illness, when the light seems brighter and 
scents keener and experience sharper than at other 
times, he was inwardly confessing that Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh had not been romancing. The vivid creature at 
his elbow, with her still unsoftened angles and move- 
ments, was in the first dawn of an exceptional beauty ; 
the plain sister had struck him before supper in the 
course of twenty minutes' conversation as above 
the average in point of manners and talk. As to Miss 
Leyburn, he had so far only exchanged a bow with 
her, but he was watching her now, as he sat opposite 
to her, out of his quick observant eyes. 

She, too, was in white. As she turned to speak to 


the youth at her side, Elsmere caught the fine outline 
of the head, the unusually clear and perfect moulding 
of the brow, nose, and upper lip. The hollows in the 
cheeks struck him, and the way in which the breadth 
of the forehead somewhat overbalanced the delicacy 
of the mouth and chin. The face, though still quite 
young, and expressing a perfect physical health, had 
the look of having been polished and refined away 
to its foundations. There was not an ounce of super- 
fluous flesh on it, and not a vestige of Rose's peach- 
like bloom. Her profile, as he saw it now, had the 
firmness, the clear whiteness, of a profile on a Greek 

She was actually making that silent, awkward lad 
talk ! Robert, who, out of his four years' experience 
as an Oxford tutor, had an abundant compassion for 
and understanding of such beings as young Mayhew, 
watched her with a pleased amusement, wondering 
how she did it. What? Had she got him on carpenter- 
ing, engineering discovered his weak point? Water- 
wheels, inventors, steam-engines and the lumpish 
lad all in a glow, talking away nineteen to the dozen. 
What tact, what kindness in her grey-blue eyes ! 

But he was interrupted by Mrs. Seaton, who was 
perfectly well aware that she had beside her a stranger 
of some prestige, an Oxford man, and a member, be- 
sides, of a well-known Sussex county family. She was 
a large and commanding person, clad in black moire 
silk. She wore a velvet diadem, Honiton lace lappets, 
and a variety of chains, beads, and bangles, bestrewn 
about her that made a tinkling as she moved. Fixing 
her neighbour with a bland majesty of eye, she in- 
[ 53 ] 


quired of him if he were 'any relation of Sir Mowbray 
Elsmere?' Robert replied that Sir Mowbray Elsmere 
was his father's cousin, and the patron of the living 
to which he had just been appointed. Mrs. Seaton 
then graciously informed him that long ago 'when 
I was a girl in my native Hampshire' --her family 
and Sir Mowbray Elsmere had been on intimate terms. 
Her father had been devoted to Sir Mowbray. 'And 
I/ she added, with an evident though lofty desire to 
please, 'retain an inherited respect, sir, for your 

Robert bowed, but it was not clear from his look 
that the rector's wife had made an impression. His 
general conception of his relative and patron Sir Mow- 
bray who had been for many years the family 
black sheep was, indeed, so far removed from any 
notions of 'respect/ that he had some difficulty in 
keeping his countenance under the lady's look and 
pose. He would have been still more entertained had 
he known the nature of the intimacy to which she re- 
ferred. Mrs. Seaton 's father, in his capacity of solic- 
itor in a small country town, had acted as electioneer- 
ing agent for Sir Mowbray (then plain Mr.) Elsmere 
on two occasions in 18 , when his client had been 
triumphantly returned at a bye-election; and two 
years later, when a repetition of the tactics, so success- 
ful in the previous contest, led to a petition, and to the 
disappearance of the heir to the Elsmere property 
from parliamentary life. 

Of these matters, however, he was ignorant, and Mrs. 
Seaton did not enlighten him. Drawing herself up 
a little, and proceeding in a more neutral tone than 

[ 54 ] 


before, she proceeded to put him through a catechism 
on Oxford, alternately cross-examining him and ex- 
pounding to him her own views and her husband's 
on the functions of universities. She and the Arch- 
deacon conceived that the Oxford authorities were 
mainly occupied in ruining the young men's health by 
over-examination, and poisoning their minds by free- 
thinking opinions. In her belief, if it went on, the 
mothers of England would refuse to send their sons 
to these ancient but deadly resorts. She looked at 
him sternly as she spoke, as though defying him to be 
flippant in return. And he, indeed, did his polite best 
to be serious. 

But it somewhat disconcerted him in the middle to 
find Miss Leyburn's eyes upon him. And undeniably 
there was a spark of laughter in them, quenched, as 
soon as his glance crossed hers, under long lashes. How 
that spark had lit up the grave, pale face ! He longed 
to provoke it again, to cross over to her and say, 
' What amused you ? Do you think me very young and 
simple? Tell me about these people/ 

But, instead, he made friends with Rose. Mrs. 
Seaton was soon engaged in giving the vicar advice 
on his parochial affairs, an experience which generally 
ended by the appearance of certain truculent elements 
in one of the mildest of men. So Robert was free to 
turn to his girl neighbour and ask her what people 
meant by calling the Lakes rainy. 

' I understand it is pouring at Oxford. To-day your 
sky here has been without a cloud, and your rivers 
are running dry/ 

'And you have mastered our climate in twenty-four 
[ 55 ] 


hours, like the tourists isn't it? that do the 
Irish question in three weeks?' 

'Not the answer of a bread-and-butter miss/ he 
thought to himself, amused, 'and yet what a child it 

He threw himself into a war of words with her, and 
enjoyed it extremely. Her brilliant colouring, her 
gestures as fresh and untamed as the movements of 
the leaping river outside, the mixture in her of girlish 
pertness and ignorance with the promise of a remark- 
able general capacity, made her a most taking, pro- 
voking creature. Mrs. Thornburgh much recovered 
in mind since Dr. Baker had praised the pancakes 
by which Sarah had sought to prove to her mistress 
the superfluity of naughtiness involved in her re- 
course to foreign cooks watched the young man 
and maiden with a face which grew more and more 
radiant. The conversation in the garden had not 
pleased her. Why should people always talk of Cath- 
erine! Mrs. Thornburgh stood in awe of Catherine 
and had given her up in despair. It was the other 
two whose fortunes, as possibly directed by her, filled 
her maternal heart with sympathetic emotion. 

Suddenly in the midst of her satisfaction she had 
a rude shock. What on earth was the vicar doing ? 
After they had got through better than any one could 
have hoped, thanks to a discreet silence and Sarah's 
makeshifts, there was the master of the house pouring 
the whole tale of his wife's aspirations and disappoint- 
ment into Mrs. Sea ton's ear ! If it were ever allowable 
to rush upon your husband at table and stop his 
mouth with a dinner napkin, Mrs. Thornburgh could 

[ 56 ] 


at this moment have performed such a feat. She 
nodded and coughed and fidgeted in vain ! 

The vicar's confidences were the result of a fit of 
nervous exasperation. Mrs. Seaton had just embarked 
upon an account of 'our charming time with Lord 
Fleckwood.' Now Lord Fleckwood was a distant 
cousin of Archdeacon Seaton, and the great magnate 
of the neighbourhood, not, however, a very respect- 
able magnate. Mr. Thornburgh had heard accounts 
of Lupton Castle from Mrs. Seaton on at least half a 
dozen different occasions. Privately he believed them 
all to refer to one visit, an event of immemorial anti- 
quity periodically brought up to date by Mrs. Seaton 's 
imagination. But the vicar was a timid man, without 
the courage of his opinions, and in his eagerness to 
stop the flow of his neighbour's eloquence he could 
think of no better device, or more suitable rival sub- 
ject, than to plunge into the story of the drunken 
carrier, and the pastry still reposing on the counter at 

He blushed, good man, when he was well in it. 
His wife's horrified countenance embarrassed him. 
But anything was better than Lord Fleckwood. Mrs. 
Seaton listened to him with the slightest smile on her 
formidable lip. The story was pleasing to her. 

'At least, my dear sir,' she said when he paused, 
nodding her diademed head with stately emphasis r 
'Mrs. Thornburgh 's inconvenience may have one good 
result. You can now make an example of the carrier. 
It is our special business, as my husband always says, 
who are in authority, to bring their low vices home to 
these people.' 

[ 57 ] 


The vicar fidgeted in his chair. What ineptitude had 
he been guilty of now! By way of avoiding Lord 
Fleckwood he might have started Mrs. Seaton on tee- 
totalism. Now if there was one topic on which this 
awe-inspiring woman was more awe-inspiring than 
another it was on the topic of teetotalism. The vicar 
had already felt himself a criminal as he drank his 
modest glass of claret under her eye. 

'Oh, the drunkenness about here is pretty bad/ 
said Dr. Baker, from the other end of the table. ' But 
there are plenty of worse things in these valleys. Be- 
sides, what person in his senses would think of trying 
to disestablish John Backhouse? He and his queer 
'brother are as much a feature of the valley as High 
Fell. We have too few originals left to be so very par- 
ticular about trifles/ 

'Trifles?' repeated Mrs. Seaton in a deep voice, 
'throwing up her eyes. But she would not venture 
an argument with Dr. Baker. He had all the cheery 
self-confidence of the old established local doctor, 
who knows himself to be a power, and neither Mrs. 
Seaton nor her restless intriguing little husband had 
ever yet succeeded in putting him down. 

'You must see these two old characters/ said Dr. 
Baker to Elsmere across the table. 'They are relics 
of a Westmoreland which will soon have disappeared. 
Old John, who is going on for seventy, is as tough an 
old dalesman as ever you saw. He does n't measure 
his cups, but he would scorn to be floored by them. I 
don't believe he does drink much, but if he does, there 
is probably no amount of whiskey that he could n't 
carry. Jim, the other brother, is about five years older. 
[ 58 ] 


He is a kind of softie all alive on one side of his 
brain, and a noodle on the other. A single glass of 
rum-and-water puts him under the table. And as he 
never can refuse this glass, and as the temptation 
generally seizes him when they are on their rounds, 
he is always getting John into disgrace. John swears 
at him and slangs him. No use. Jim sits still, looks 
well, nohow. I never saw an old creature with a 
more singular gift of denuding his face of all expression. 
John vows he shall go to the " house " ; he has no legal 
share in the business; the house and the horse and 
cart are John's. Next day you see them on the cart 
again just as usual. In reality neither brother can do 
without the other. And three days after, the play 
begins again/ 

'An improving spectacle for the valley/ said Mrs. 
Seaton drily. 

'Oh, my dear madam/ said the doctor, shrugging 
his shoulders, 'we can't all be so virtuous. If old Jim 
is a drunkard, he has got a heart of his own somewhere, 
and can nurse a dying niece like a woman. Miss Ley- 
burn can tell us something about that/ 

And he turned round to his neighbour with a com- 
plete change of expression, and a voice that had a 
new note in it of affectionate respect. Catherine col- 
oured as if she did not like being addressed on the 
subject, and just nodded a little with gentle affirm- 
ative eyes. 

'A strange case/ said Dr. Baker, again looking at 
Elsmere. 'It is a family that is original and old- 
world even in its ways of dying. I have been a doctor 
in these parts for five-and-twenty years. I have seen 
[ 59 ] 


what you may call old Westmoreland die out cos- 
tume, dialect, superstitions. At least, as to dialect, 
the people have become bi-lingual. I sometimes think 
they talk it to each other as much as ever, but some 
of them won't talk it to you and me at all. And as 
to superstitions, the only ghost-story I know that still 
has some hold on popular belief is the one which 
attaches to this mountain here, High Fell, at the end 
of this valley/ 

He paused a moment. A salutary sense has begun 
to penetrate even modern provincial society, that no 
man may tell a ghost-story without leave. Rose threw 
a merry glance at him. They two were very old friends. 
Dr. Baker had pulled out her first teeth and given her 
a sixpence afterwards for each operation. The pull 
was soon forgotten ; the sixpence lived on gratefully 
in a child's warm memory. 

'Tell it/ she said; 'we give you leave. We won't 
interrupt you unless you put in too many inventions/ 

' You invite me to break the first law of story-telling, 
Miss Rose/ said the doctor, lifting a finger at her. 
' Every man is bound to leave a story better than he 
found it. However, I could n't tell it if I would. I 
don't know what makes the poor ghost walk ; and if 
you do, I shall say you invent. But at any rate there 
is a ghost, and she walks along the side of High Fell 
at midnight every Midsummer Day. If you se.e her 
and she passes you in silence, why you only get a 
fright for your pains. But if she speaks to you, you die 
within the year. Old John Backhouse is a widower 
with one daughter. This girl saw the ghost last Mid- 
summer Day, and Miss Leyburn and I are now doing 

[ 60 ] 


our best to keep her alive over the next ; but with very 
small prospect of success/ 

'What is the girl dying of? fright?' asked Mrs. 
Seaton harshly. 

'Oh no!' said the doctor hastily, 'not precisely. A 
sad story ; better not inquire into it. But at the present 
moment the time of her death seems likely to be deter- 
mined by the strength of her own and other people's 
belief in the ghost's summons.' 

Mrs. Seaton 's grim mouth relaxed into an ungenial 
smile. She put up her eye-glass and looked at Cather- 
ine. 'An unpleasant household, I should imagine,' she 
said, shortly, 'for a young lady to visit.' 

Dr. Baker looked at the rector's wife, and a kind of 
flame came into his eyes. He and Mrs. Seaton were 
old enemies, and he was a quick-tempered mercurial 
sort of man. 

' I presume that one's guardian angel may have to 
follow one sometimes into unpleasant quarters,' he 
said hotly. ' If this girl lives, it will be Miss Ley burn's 
doing ; if she dies, saved and comforted, instead of lost 
in this world and the next, it will be Miss Ley burn's 
doing too. Ah, my dear young lady, let me alone! 
You tie my tongue always, and I won't have it.' 

And the doctor turned his weather-beaten elderly 
face upon her with a look which was half defiance and 
half apology. She, on her side, had flushed painfully, 
laying her white finger-tips imploringly on his arm. 
Mrs. Seaton turned away with a little dry cough, so 
did her spectacled sister at the other end of the table. 
Mrs. Leyburn, on the other hand, sat in a little ecstasy, 
looking at Catherine and Dr. Baker, something glisten- 
[ 61 ] 


ing in her eyes. Robert Elsmere alone showed pre- 
sence of mind. Bending across to Dr. Baker, he asked 
him a sudden question as to the history of a certain 
strange green mound or barrow that rose out of a flat 
field not far from the vicarage windows. Dr. Baker 
grasped his whiskers, threw the young man a queer 
glance, and replied. Thenceforward he and Robert 
kept up a lively antiquarian talk on the traces of 
Norse settlement in the Cumbrian valleys, which 
lasted till the ladies left the dining-room. 

As Catherine Leyburn went out Elsmere stood hold- 
ing the door open. She could not help raising her eyes 
upon him, eyes full of a half-timid, half-grateful friend- 
liness. His own returned her look with interest. 

' "A spirit, but a woman too,"' he thought to him- 
self with a new-born thrill of sympathy, as he went 
back to his seat. She had not yet said a direct word 
to him, and yet he was curiously convinced that here 
was one of the most interesting persons, and one of 
the persons most interesting to him, that he had ever 
met. What mingled delicacy and strength in the hand 
that had lain beside her on the dinner-table what 
potential depths of feeling in the full dark-fringed 

Half an hour later, when Elsmere re-entered the 
drawing-room, he found Catherine Leyburn sitting by 
an open French window that looked out on the lawn, 
and on the dim rocky face of the fell. Adeline Baker, 
a stooping red-armed maiden, with a pretty face, set 
off, as she imagined, by a vast amount of cheap finery, 
was sitting beside her, studying her with a timid adora- 
tion. The doctor's daughter regarded Catherine Ley- 
[ 62 ] 


burn, who during the last five years had made herself 
almost as distinct a figure in the popular imagination 
of a few Westmoreland valleys as Sister Dora among 
her Walsall miners, as a being of a totally different 
order from herself. She was glued to the side of her 
idol, but her shy and awkward tongue could find 
hardly anything to say to her. Catherine, however, 
talked away, gently stroking the while the girl's rough 
hand which lay on her knee, to the mingled pain and 
bliss of its owner, who was outraged by the contrast 
between her own ungainly member and Miss Ley- 
burn's delicate fingers. 

Mrs. Seaton was on the sofa beside Mrs. Thornburgh, 
amply avenging herself on the vicar's wife for any 
checks she might have received at tea. Miss Barks, 
her sister, an old maid with a face that seemed to be 
perpetually peering forward, light colourless hair sur- 
mounted by a cap adorned with artificial nasturtiums, 
and white-lashed eyes armed with spectacles, was 
having her way with Mrs. Leyburn, inquiring into 
the household arrangements of Burwood with a cross- 
examining power which made the mild widow as pulp 
before her. 

When the gentlemen entered, Mrs. Thornburgh 
looked round hastily. She herself had opened that 
door into the garden. A garden on a warm summer 
night offers opportunities no schemer should neglect. 
Agnes and Rose were chattering and laughing on the 
gravel path just outside it, their white girlish figures 
showing temptingly against the dusky background of 
garden and fell. It somewhat disappointed the vicar's 
wife to see her tall guest take a chair and draw it be- 
[ 63 ] 


side Catherine while Adeline Baker awkwardly got 
up and disappeared into the garden. 

Elsmere felt it an unusually interesting moment, so 
strong had been his sense of .attraction at tea ; but like 
the rest of us he could find nothing more telling to 
start with than a remark about the weather. Catherine 
in her reply asked him if he were quite recovered from 
the attack of low fever he was understood to have 
been suffering from. 

'Oh yes/ he said brightly, 'I am very nearly as fit 
as I ever was, and more eager than I ever was to 
get to work. The idling of it is the worst part of 
illness. However, in a month from now I must be 
at my living, and I can only hope it will give me 
enough to do/ 

Catherine looked up at him with a quick impulse 
of liking. What an eager face it was! Eagerness, in- 
deed, seemed to be the note of the whole man, of the 
quick eyes and mouth, the flexible hands and ener- 
getic movements. Even the straight, stubbly hair, its 
owner's passing torment, standing up round the high 
open brow, seemed to help the general impression of 
alertness and vigour. 

'Your mother, I hear, is already there?' said Cath- 

'Yes. My poor mother!' and the young man smiled 
half -sadly. 'It is a curious situation for both of us. 
This living which has just been bestowed on me is my 
father's old living. It is in the gift of my cousin, Sir 
Mowbray Elsmere. My great-uncle' - - he drew him- 
self together suddenly. 'But I don't know why I 
should imagine that these things interest other peo- 

[ 64 ] 


pie/ he said, with a little quick, almost comical, accent 
of self -rebuke. 

'Please go on/ cried Catherine hastily. The voice 
and manner were singularly pleasant to her ; she wished 
he would not interrupt himself for nothing. 

' Really? Well then, my great-uncle, old Sir William, 
wished me to have it when I grew up. I was against it 
for a long time; took orders; but I wanted some- 
thing more stirring than a country parish. One has 
dreams of many things. But one's dreams come to 
nothing. I got ill at Oxford. The doctors forbade the 
town work. The old incumbent who had held the living 
since my father's death died precisely at that moment. 
I felt myself booked, and gave in to various friends ; 
but it is second best/ 

She felt a certain soreness and discomfort in his 
tone, as though his talk represented a good deal of 
mental struggle in the past. 

'But the country is not idleness/ she said, smiling 
at him. Her cheek was leaning lightly on her hand, 
her eyes had an unusual animation ; and her long white 
dress, guiltless of any ornament save a small old- 
fashioned locket hanging from a thin old chain and 
a pair of hair bracelets with engraved gold clasps, gave 
her the nobleness and simplicity of a Romney picture. 

' You do not find it so, I imagine/ he replied, bend- 
ing forward to her with a charming gesture of homage. 
He would have liked her to talk to him of her work and 
her interests. He, too, mentally compared her to Saint 
Elizabeth. He could almost have fancied the dark red 
flowers in her white lap. But his comparison had an- 
other basis of feeling than Rose's. 
[ 65 ] 


However, she would not talk to him of herself. The 
way in which she turned the conversation brought 
home to his own expansive confiding nature a certain 
austerity and stiffness of fibre in her which for the 
moment chilled him. But as he got her into talk about 
the neighbourhood, the people and their ways, the im- 
pression vanished again, so far at least as there was 
anything repellent about it. Austerity, strength, in- 
dividuality, all these words indeed he was more and 
more driven to apply to her. She was like no other 
woman he had ever seen. It was not at all that she 
was more remarkable intellectually. Every now and 
then, indeed, as their talk flowed on, he noticed in 
what she said an absence of a good many interests 
and attainments which in his ordinary South-country 
women friends he would have assumed as a matter of 

'I understand French very little, and I never read 
any/ she said to him once, quietly, as he fell to com- 
paring some peasant story she had told him with an 
episode in one of George Sand's Berry novels. It 
seemed to him that she knew her Wordsworth by 
heart. And her own mountain life, her own rich and 
meditative soul, had taught her judgements and com- 
ments on her favourite poet which stirred Elsmere 
every now and then to enthusiasm so true they were 
and pregnant, so full often of a natural magic of ex- 
pression. On the other hand, when he quoted a very 
well-known line of Shelley's she asked him where it 
came from. She seemed to him deeper and simpler 
at every moment; her very limitations of sympathy 
and knowledge, and they were evidently many, began 

[ 66 ] 


to attract him. The thought of her ancestry crossed 
him now and then, rousing in him now wonder, and 
now a strange sense of congruity and harmony. Clearly 
she was the daughter of a primitive unexhausted race. 
And yet what purity, what refinement, what delicate 
perception and self-restraint ! 

Presently they fell on the subject of Oxford. 

'Were you ever there?' he asked her. 

'Once/ she said. 'I went with my father one sum- 
mer term. I have only a confused memory of it of 
the quadrangles, and a long street, a great building 
with a dome, and such beautiful trees ! ' 

'Did your father often go back?' 

' No ; never toward the latter part of his life ' and 
her clear eyes clouded a little; 'nothing made him so- 
sad as the thought of Oxford/ 

She paused, as though she had strayed on to a topic 
where expression was a little difficult. Then his face 
and clerical dress seemed somehow to reassure her, and 
she began again, though reluctantly. 

'He used to say that it was all so changed. The 
young fellows he saw when he went back scorned 
everything he cared for. Every visit to Oxford was 
like a stab to him. It seemed to him as if the place was: 
full of men who only wanted to destroy and break 
down everything that was sacred to him/ 

Elsmere reflected that Richard Leyburn must have 
left Oxford about the beginning of the Liberal reaction, 
which followed Tractarianism, and in twenty years 
transformed the University. 

' Ah ! ' he said, smiling gently. ' He should have lived 
a little longer. There is another turn of the tide since 
[ 67 ] 


then. The destructive wave has spent itself, and at 
Oxford now many of us feel ourselves on the upward 
swell of a religious revival/ 

Catherine looked up at him with a sweet sympa- 
thetic look. That dim vision of Oxford, with its grey, 
tree-lined walls, lay very near to her heart for her 
father's sake. And the keen face above her seemed 
to satisfy and respond to her inner feeling. 

' I know the High Church influence is very strong, ' 
she said, hesitating; 'but I don't know whether father 
would have liked that much better/ 

The last words had slipped out of her, and she 
checked herself suddenly. Robert saw that she was 
uncertain as to his opinions, and afraid lest she might 
have said something discourteous. 

'It is not only the High Church influence/ he said 
.quickly, 'it is a mixture of influences from all sorts 
of quarters that has brought about the new state of 
things. Some of the factors in the change were hardly 
Christian at all, by name, but they have all helped to 
make men think, to stir their hearts, to win them back 
to the old ways/ 

His voice had taken to itself a singular magnetism. 
Evidently the matters they were discussing were mat- 
ters in which he felt a deep and loving interest. His 
young boyish face had grown grave ; there was a strik- 
ing dignity and weight in his look and manner, which 
suddenly roused in Catherine the sense that she was 
speaking to a man of distinction, accustomed to deal on 
equal terms with the large things of life. She raised her 
eyes to him for a moment, and he saw in them a beau- 
tiful, mystical light responsive, lofty, full of soul. 
[ 68 ] 


The next moment, it apparently struck her sharply 
that their conversation was becoming incongruous 
with its surroundings. Behind them Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh was bustling about with candles and music- 
stools, preparing for a performance on the flute by 
Mr. Mayhew, the black-browed vicar of Shanmoor, 
and the room seemed to be pervaded by Mrs. Seaton's 
strident voice. Her strong natural reserve asserted 
itself, and her face settled again into the slight rigidity 
of expression characteristic of it. She rose and pre- 
pared to move farther into the room. 

'We must listen/ she said to him, smiling, over her 

And she left him, settling herself by the side of 
Mrs. Leyburn. He had a momentary sense of rebuff. 
The man, quick, sensitive, sympathetic, felt in the 
woman the presence of a strength, a self-sufficingness 
which was not all attractive. His vanity, if he had 
cherished any during their conversation, was not flat- 
tered by its close. But as he leant against the window- 
frame waiting for the music to begin, he could hardly 
keep his eyes from her. He was a man who, by force 
of temperament, made friends readily with women, 
though except for a passing fancy or two he had never 
been in love ; and his sense of difficulty with regard to 
this stiffly-mannered, deep-eyed country girl brought 
with it an unusual stimulus and excitement. 

Miss Barks seated herself deliberately, after much 
fiddling with bracelets and gloves, and tied back the 
ends of her cap behind her. Mr. Mayhew took out his 
flute and lovingly put it together. He was a powerful 
swarthy man, who said little and was generally alarm- 
[ 69 ] 


ing to the ladies of the neighbourhood. To propitiate 
him, they asked him to bring his flute, and nervously 
praised the fierce music he made on it. Miss Barks 
enjoyed a monopoly of his accompaniments, and there 
were many who regarded her assiduity as a covert 
attack upon the widower's name and position. If so, 
it was Greek meeting Greek, for with all his taciturnity 
the vicar of Shanmoor was well able to defend him- 

'Has it begun?' said a hurried whisper at Elsmere's 
elbow, and turning he saw Rose and Agnes on the step 
of the window, Rose's cheeks flushed by the night 
breeze, a shawl thrown lightly round her head. 

She was answered by the first notes of the flute, 
following some powerful chords in which Miss Barks 
had tested at once the strength of her wrists and the 
vicarage piano. 

The girl made a little moue of disgust, and turned as 
though to fly down the steps again. But Agnes caught 
her and held her, and the mutinous creature had to 
submit to be drawn inside while Mrs. Thornburgh, in 
obedience to complaints of draughts from Mrs. Seaton, 
motioned to have the window shut. Rose established 
herself against the wall, her curly head thrown back, 
her eyes half-shut, her mouth expressing an angry en- 
durance. Robert watched her with amusement. 

It was certainly a remarkable duet. After an 
adagio opening in which flute and piano were at 
magnificent cross-purposes from the beginning, the 
two instruments plunged into an allegro very long and 
very fast, which became ultimately a desperate race 
between the competing performers for the final chord. 
[ 70 ] 


Mr. Mayhew toiled away, taxing the resources of his 
whole vast frame to keep his small instrument in a line 
with the piano, and taxing them in vain. For the shriller 
and the wilder grew the flute, and the greater the ex- 
ertion of the dark Hercules performing on it, the 
fiercer grew the pace of the piano. Rose stamped her 
little foot. 

'Two bars ahead last page/ she murmured, 'three 
bars this : will no one stop her ! ' 

But the pages flew past, turned assiduously by 
Agnes, who took a sardonic delight in these perform- 
ances, and every countenance in the room seemed to 
take a look of sharpened anxiety as to how the duet 
was to end, and who was to be victor. 

Nobody knowing Miss Barks need to have been in 
any doubt as to that ! Crash came the last chord, and 
the poor flute nearly half a page behind was left shrilly 
hanging in mid -air, forsaken and companionless, an 
object of derision to gods and men. 

' Ah ! I took it a little fast!' said the lady, triumph- 
antly looking up at the discomfited clergyman. 

'Mr. Elsmere/ said Rose, hiding herself in the win- 
dow curtain beside him, that she might have her 
laugh in safety, 'do they play like that in Oxford, or 
has Long Whindale a monopoly?' 

But before he could answer, Mrs. Thornburgh called 
to the girl 

' Rose ! Rose ! Don't go out again ! It is your turn 

Rose advanced reluctantly, her head in air. Robert, 
remembering something that Mrs. Thornburgh had 
said to him as to her musical power, supposed that she 
[ 71 ] 


felt it an indignity to be asked to play in such com- 

Mrs. Thornburgh motioned to him to come and sit 
by Mrs. Ley burn, a summons which he obeyed with 
the more alacrity, as it brought him once more within 
reach of Mrs. Leyburn 's eldest daughter. 

'Are you fond of music, Mr. Elsmere?' asked Mrs. 
Leyburn in her little mincing voice, making room for 
his chair beside them. ' If you are, I am sure my young- 
est daughter's playing will please you/ 

Catherine moved abruptly. Robert, while he made 
some pleasant answer, divined that the reserved and 
stately daughter must be often troubled by the 
mother's expansiveness. 

Meanwhile the room was again settling itself to 
listen. Mrs. Sea ton was severely turning over a photo- 
graph-book. In her opinion the violin was an unbe- 
coming instrument for young women. Miss Barks sat 
upright with the studiously neutral expression which 
befits the artist asked to listen to a rival, Mr. Thorn- 
burgh sat pensive, one foot drooped over the other. 
He was very fond of the Leyburn girls, but music 
seemed to him, good man, one of the least compre- 
hensible of human pleasures. As for Rose, she had at 
last arranged herself and her accompanist Agnes, after 
routing out from her music a couple of Fantasie- 
Stucke, which she had wickedly chosen as presenting 
the most severely classical contrast to the 'rubbish' 
played by the preceding performers. She stood with 
her lithe figure in its old-fashioned dress thrown out 
against the black coats of a group of gentlemen beyond, 
one slim arched foot advanced, the ends of the blue 


sash dangling, the hand and the arm, beautifully 
formed, but still wanting the roundness of woman- 
hood, raised high for action, the lightly poised head 
thrown back with an air. Robert thought her a be- 
witching, half-grown thing, overflowing with poten- 
tialities of future brilliance and empire. 

Her music astonished him. Where had a little pro- 
vincial maiden learned to play with this intelligence, 
this force, this delicate command of her instrument? 
He was not a musician, and therefore could not gauge 
her exactly, but he was more or less familiar with 
music and its standards, as all people become now- 
adays who live in a highly cultivated society, and 
he knew enough at any rate to see that what he was 
listening to was remarkable, was out of the common 
range. Still more evident was this, when from the hu- 
morous piece with which the sisters led off a dance 
of clowns, but clowns of Arcady they slid into a deli- 
cate rippling chant d' amour, the long-drawn notes of 
the violin rising. and falling on the piano accompani- 
ment with an exquisite plaintiveness. Where did a 
fillette, unformed, inexperienced, win the secret of so 
much eloquence only from the natural dreams of 
a girl's heart as to 'the lovers waiting in the hidden 

But when the music ceased, Elsmere, after a hearty 
clap that set the room applauding likewise, turned 
not to the musician but the figure beside Mrs. Ley- 
burn, the sister who had sat listening with an im- 
passiveness, a sort of gentle remoteness of look, which 
had piqued his curiosity. The mother meanwhile was 
drinking in the compliments of Dr. Baker. 
[ 73 ] 


'Excellent!' cried Elsmere. 'How in the name of 
fortune, Miss Leyburn, if I may ask, has your sister 
managed to get on so far in this remote place?' 

'She goes to Manchester every year to some rela- 
tions we have there/ said Catherine quietly; 'I believe 
she has been very well taught/ 

' But surely/ he said warmly, 'it is more than teach- 
ing more even than talent there is something 
like genius in it ! ' 

She did not answer very readily. 

'I don't know/ she said at last. 'Every one says it 
is very good.' 

He would have been repelled by her irresponsive- 
ness but that her last words had in them a note of 
lingering, of wistfulness, as though the subject were 
connected with an inner debate not yet solved which 
troubled her. He was puzzled, but certainly not re- 

Twenty minutes later everybody was going. The 
Sea tons went first, and the other- guests lingered 
a while afterwards to enjoy the sense of freedom left 
by their departure. But at last the Mayhews, father 
and son, set off on foot to walk home over the moonlit 
mountains ; the doctor tucked himself and his daughter 
into his high gig, and drove off with a sweeping ironical 
bow to Rose, who had stood on the steps teasing him 
to the last ; and Robert Elsmere offered to escort the 
Miss Leyburns and their mother home. 

Mrs. Thornburgh was left protesting to the vicar's 
incredulous ears that never never as long as she 
lived would she have Mrs. Seaton inside her doors 

[ 74 ] 


'Her manners' cried the vicar's wife, fuming 
'her manners would disgrace a Whinborough shop- 
girl. She has none positively none ! ' 

Then suddenly her round comfortable face bright- 
ened and broadened out into a beaming smile - 

'But, after all, William, say what you will and 
you always do say the most unpleasant things you 
can think of it was a great success. I know the Ley- 
burns enjoyed it. And as for Robert, I saw him look- 
ing looking at that little minx Rose while she was 
playing as if he could n't take his eyes off her. What 
a picture she made, to be sure ! ' 

The vicar, who had been standing with his back to 
the fireplace and his hands in his pockets, received 
his wife's remarks first of all with lifted eyebrows, 
and then with a low chuckle, half -scornful, half-com- 
passionate, which made her start in her chair. 

' Rose ! ' he said impatiently. ' Rose ! my dear, where 
were your eyes?' 

It was very rarely indeed that on her own ground, 
so to speak, the vicar ventured to take the whip-hand 
of her like this. Mrs. Thornburgh looked at him in 

'Do you mean to say/ he asked, in raised tones, 
' that you did n't notice that from the moment you 
first introduced Robert to Catherine Leyburn, he had 
practically no attention for anybody else?' 

Mrs. Thornburgh gazed at him her memory flew 
back over the evening and her impulsive contradic- 
tion died on her lips. It was now her turn to ejaculate 

'Catherine!' she said feebly. 'Catherine! how ab- 

[ 75 ] 


But she turned and, with quickened breath, looked 
out of window after the retreating figures. Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh went up to bed that night an inch taller. She had 
never felt herself more exquisitely indispensable, more 
of a personage. 


BEFORE, however, we go on to chronicle the ulti- 
mate success or failure of Mrs. Thornburgh as a 
match-maker, it may be well to inquire a little more 
closely into the antecedents of the man who had 
suddenly roused so much activity in her contriving 
mind. And, indeed, these antecedents are important 
to us. For the interest of an uncomplicated story will 
entirely depend upon the clearness with which the 
reader may have grasped the general outlines of a 
quick souPs development. And this development had 
already made considerable progress before Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh set eyes upon her husband's cousin, Robert 

Robert Elsmere, then, was well born and fairly well 
provided with this world's goods; up to a certain 
moderate point, indeed, a favourite of fortune in all 
respects. His father belonged to the younger line of 
an old Sussex family, and owed his pleasant country 
living to the family instincts of his uncle, Sir William 
Elsmere, in whom Whig doctrines and Conservative 
traditions were pretty evenly mixed, with a result of 
the usual respectable and inconspicuous kind. His 
virtues had descended mostly to his daughters, while 
all his various weaknesses and fatuities had blossomed 
into vices in the person of his eldest son and heir, the 
Sir Mowbray Elsmere of Mrs. Seaton's early recollec- 


Edward Elsmere, rector of Murewell in Surrey, and 
father of Robert, had died before his uncle and patron ; 
and his widow and son had been left to face the world 
together. Sir William Elsmere and his nephew's wife 
had not much in common, and rarely concerned them- 
selves with each other. Mrs. Elsmere was an Irish- 
woman by birth, with irregular Irish ways, and a 
passion for strange garments, which made her the 
dread of the conventional English squire; and, after 
she left the vicarage with her son, she and her hus- 
band's uncle met no more. But when he died it was 
found that the old man's sense of kinship, acting 
blindly and irrationally, but with a slow inevitable- 
ness and certainty, had stirred in him at the last in be- 
half of his great-nephew. He left him a money legacy, 
the interest of which was to be administered by his 
mother till his majority, and in a letter addressed to 
his heir he directed that, should the boy on attaining 
manhood show any disposition to enter the Church, 
all possible steps were to be taken to endow him with 
the family living of Murewell, which had been his 
father's, and which at the time of the old Baronet's 
death was occupied by another connexion of the family, 
already well stricken in years. 

Mowbray Elsmere had been hardly on speaking 
terms with his cousin Edward, and was neithe- ami- 
able nor generous, but his father knew that the tena- 
cious Elsmere instinct was to be depended on for the 
fulfilment of his wishes. And so it proved. No sooner 
was his father dead than Sir Mowbray curtly com- 
municated his instructions to Mrs. Elsmere, then liv- 
ing at the town of Harden for the sake of the great 


public school recently transported there. She was to 
inform him, when the right moment arrived, if it was 
the boy's wish to enter the Church, and meanwhile 
he referred her to his lawyers for particulars of such 
immediate benefits as were secured to her under the 
late Baronet's will. 

At the moment when Sir Mowbray's letter reached 
her, Mrs. Elsmere was playing a leading part in the 
small society to which circumstances had consigned 
her. She was the personal friend of half the masters 
and their wives, and of at least a quarter of the school, 
while in the little town which stretched up the hill 
covered by the new school buildings, she was the helper, 
gossip, and confidante of half the parish. Her vast hats, 
strange in fashion and inordinate in brim, her shawls 
of many colours, hitched now to this side, now to that, 
her swaying gait and looped -up skirts, her spectacles, 
and the dangling parcels in which her soul delighted, 
were the outward signs of a personality familiar to all. 
For under those checked shawls which few women 
passed without an inward marvel, there beat one of 
the warmest hearts that ever animated mortal clay, 
and the prematurely wrinkled face, with its small 
quick eyes and shrewd indulgent mouth, bespoke a 
nature as responsive as it was vigorous. 

Their owner was constantly in the public eye. Her 
house, during the hours at any rate in which her boy 
was at school, was little else than a halting-place be- 
tween two journeys. Visits to the poor, long watches 
by the sick ; committees, in which her racy breadth of 
character gave her always an important place ; discus- 
sions with the vicar, arguments with the curates, a 
[ 79 ] 


chat with this person and a walk with that these 
were the incidents and occupations which filled her 
day. Life was delightful to her ; action, energy, influ- 
ence, were delightful to her; she could only breathe 
freely in the very thick of the stirring, many-coloured 
tumult of existence. Whether it was a pauper in the 
workhouse, or boys from the school, or a girl caught 
in the tangle of a love-affair, it was all the same to Mrs. 
Elsmere. Everything moved her, everything appealed 
to her. Her life was a perpetual giving-forth, and such 
was the inherent nobility and soundness of the nature, 
that in spite of her curious Irish fondness for the vehe- 
ment romantic sides of experience, she did little harm, 
and much good. Her tongue might be over-ready, and 
her championships indiscreet, but her hands were help- 
ful, and her heart was true. There was something 
contagious in her enjoyment of life, and with all her 
strong religious faith, the thought of death, of any 
final pause and silence in the whirr of the great social 
machine, was to her a thought of greater chill and 
horror than to many a less brave and spiritual soul. 

Till her boy was twelve years old, however, she had 
lived for him first a/id foremost. She had taught him, 
played with him, le*arnt with him, communicating to 
him through all his lessons her own fire and eagerness 
to a degree which every now and then taxed the phys- 
ical powers of the child. Whenever the signs of strain 
appeared, however, the mother would be overtaken by 
a fit of repentant watchfulness, and for days together 
Robert would find her the most fascinating playmate, 
story-teller, and romp, and forget all his precocious 
interest in history or vulgar fractions. In after years, 

[ 80 ] 


when Robert looked back upon his childhood, he was 
often reminded of the stories of Goethe's bringing-up. 
He could recall exactly the same scenes as Goethe 
describes, mother and child sitting together in the 
gloaming, the mother's dark eyes dancing with fun or 
kindling with dramatic fire, as she carried an imaginary 
hero or heroine through a series of the raciest ad- 
ventures ; the child all eagerness and sympathy, now 
clapping his little hands at the fall of the giant, or the 
defeat of the sorcerer, and now arguing and suggesting 
in ways which gave perpetually fresh stimulus to the 
mother's inventiveness. He could see her dressing-up 
with him on wet days, reciting King Henry to his 
Prince Hal, or Prospero to his Ariel, or simply giving 
free vent to her own exuberant Irish fun till both he 
and she would sink exhausted into each other's arms, 
and end the evening with a long croon, sitting curled 
up together in a big armchair in front of the fire. He 
could see himself as a child of many crazes, eager for 
poetry one week, for natural history the next, now 
spending all his spare time in strumming, now in 
drawing, and now forgetting everything but the de- 
lights of tree-climbing and bird-nesting. 

And through it all he had the quick memory of his 
mother's companionship, he could recall her rueful 
looks whenever the eager inaccurate ways, in which 
he reflected certain ineradicable tendencies of her own, 
had lost him a school advantage ; he could remember 
her exhortations, with the dash in them of humorous 
self-reproach which made them so stirring to the 
child's affection; and he could realise their old far-off 
life at Murewell, the joys and the worries of it, and see 
[ 81 ] 


her now gossiping with the village folk, now wearing 
herself impetuously to death in their service, and now 
roaming with him over the Surrey heaths in search of 
all the dirty delectable things in which a boy-naturalist 
delights. And through it all he was conscious of the 
same vivid energetic creature, disposing with some 
difficulty and fracas of its own excess of nervous life. 

To return, however, to this same critical moment of 
Sir Mowbray's offer. Robert at the time was a boy of 
sixteen, doing very well at school, a favourite both with 
boys and masters. But as to whether his development 
would lead him in the direction of taking orders, his 
mother had not the slightest idea. She was not herself 
very much tempted by the prospect. There were recol- 
lections connected with Murewell, and with the long 
death in life which her husband had passed through 
there, which were deeply painful to her; and, more- 
over, her sympathy with the clergy as a class was by 
no means strong. Her experience had not been large, 
but the feeling based on it promised to have all the 
tenacity of a favourite prejudice. Fortune had handed 
over the parish of Harden to a ritualist vicar. Mrs. 
Elsmere's inherited Evangelicalism she came from 
an Ulster county rebelled against his doctrine, but 
the man himself was too loveable to be disliked. Mrs. 
Elsmere knew a hero when she saw him. And in his 
own. narrow way, the small-headed emaciated vicar 
was a hero, and he and Mrs. Elsmere had soon tasted 
each other's quality, and formed a curious alliance, 
founded on true similarity in difference. 

But the criticism thus warded off the vicar ex- 
pended itself with all the more force on his subor- 

[ 82 ] 


dinates. The Harden curates were the chief crook in 
Mrs. Elsmere 's otherwise tolerable lot. Her parish 
activities brought her across them perpetually, and 
slie could not away with them. Their cassocks, their 
pretensions, their stupidities, roused the Irishwoman's 
sense of humour at every turn. The individuals came 
and went, but the type it seemed to her was always 
the same ; and she made their peculiarities the basis 
of a pessimist theory as to the future of the English 
Church, which was a source of constant amusement 
to the very broad-minded young men who filled up 
the school staff. She, so ready in general to see all the 
world's good points, was almost blind when it was a 
curate's virtues which were in question. So that, in 
spite of all her persistent church-going, and her love 
of church performances as an essential part of the 
busy human spectacle, Mrs. Elsmere had no yearning 
for a clerical son. The little accidents of a personal 
experience had led to wide generalisations, as is the 
way with us mortals, and the position of the young 
parson in these days of increased parsonic pretensions 
was, to Mrs. Elsmere, a position in which there was an 
inherent risk of absurdity. She wished her son to im- 
pose upon her when it came to his taking any serious 
step in life. She asked for nothing better, indeed, than 
to be able, when the time came, to bow the motherly 
knee to him in homage, and she felt a little dread lest, 
in her flat moments, a clerical son might sometimes 
rouse in her that sharp sense of the ludicrous which 
is the enemy of all happy illusions. 

Still, of course, the Elsmere proposal was one to be 
seriously considered in its due time and place. Mrs. 
[ 83 ] 


Elsmere only reflected that it would certainly be better 
to say nothing of it to Robert until he should be at 
college. His impressionable temperament, and the 
power he had occasionally shpwn of absorbing himself 
in a subject till it produced in him a fit of intense con- 
tinuous brooding, unfavourable to health and nervous 
energy, all warned her not to supply him, at a period 
of rapid mental and bodily growth, with any fresh 
stimulus to the sense of responsibility. As a boy, he 
had always shown himself religiously susceptible to 
a certain extent, and his mother's religious likes and 
dislikes had invariably found in him a blind and 
chivalrous support. He was content to be with her, 
to worship with her, and to feel that no reluctance or 
resistance divided his heart from hers. But there had 
been nothing specially noteworthy or precocious about 
his religious development, and at sixteen or seventeen, 
in spite of his affectionate compliance, and his natural 
reverence for all persons and beliefs in authority, his 
mother was perfectly aware that many other things in 
his life were more real to him than religion. And on 
this point, at any rate, she was certainly not the per- 
son to force him. 

He was such a schoolboy as a discerning master 
delights in keen about everything, bright, docile, 
popular, excellent at games. He was in the sixth, 
moreover, as soon as his age allowed : that is to say, as 
soon as he was sixteen; and his pride in everything 
connected with the great body in which he had already 
a marked and important place was unbounded. Very 
early in his school career the literary instincts, which 
had always been present in him, and which his mother 

[ 84 ] 


had largely helped to develop by her own restless 
imaginative ways of approaching life and the world, 
made themselves felt with considerable force. Some 
time before his cousin's letter arrived, he had been 
taken with a craze for English poetry, and, but for 
the corrective influence of a favourite tutor, would 
probably have thrown himself into it with the same 
exclusive passion as he had shown for subject after 
subject in his eager ebullient childhood. His mother 
found him at thirteen inditing a letter on the subject of 
' The Faerie Queene ' to a school-friend, in which, with 
a sincerity which made her forgive the pomposity, he 

' I can truly say, with Pope, that this great work has 
afforded me extraordinary pleasure/ 

And about the same time, a master who was much 
interested in the boy's prospects of getting the school 
prize for Latin verse, a subject for which he had always 
shown a special aptitude, asked him anxiously, after 
an Easter holiday, what he had been reading ; the boy 
ran his hands through his hair, and still keeping his 
finger between the leaves, shut a book before him from 
which he had been learning by heart, and which was, 
alas ! neither Ovid nor Virgil. 

' I have just finished Belial ! ' he said, with a sigh of 
satisfaction, 'and am beginning Beelzebub/ 

A craze of this kind was naturally followed by a 
feverish period of juvenile authorship, when the house 
was littered over with stanzas from the opening canto 
of a great poem on Columbus, or with moral essays in 
the manner of Pope, castigating the vices of the time 
with an energy which sorely tried the gravity of the 
[ 85 ] 


mother whenever she was called upon, as she invar- 
iably was, to play audience to the young poet. At the 
same time the classics absorbed in reality their full 
share of this fast developing power. Virgil and 
^schylus appealed to the same fibres, the same sus- 
ceptibilities, as Milton and Shakespeare, and the boy's 
quick imaginative sense appropriated Greek and Latin 
life with the same ease which it showed in possessing 
itself of that bygone English life whence sprung the 
' Canterbury Tales/ or 'As You Like It.' So that his 
tutor, who was much attached to him, and who made 
it one of his main objects in life to keep the boy's aspir- 
ing nose to the grindstone of grammatical minutiae, 
began about the time of Sir Mowbray's letter to pro- 
phesy very smooth things indeed to his mother as to 
his future success at college, the possibility of his 
getting the famous St. Anselm's scholarship, and 
so on. 

Evidently such a youth was not likely to depend for 
the attainment of a foothold in life on a piece of family 
privilege. The world was all before him where to 
choose, Mrs. Elsmere thought proudly to herself, as 
her mother's fancy wandered rashly through the com- 
ing years. And for many reasons she secretly allowed 
herself to hope that he would find for himself some 
other post of ministry in a very various world than the 
vicarage of Mure well. 

So she wrote a civil letter of acknowledgement to 
Sir Mowbray, informing him that the intentions of his 
great-uncle should be communicated to the boy when 
he should be of fit age to consider them, and that 
meanwhile she was obliged to him for pointing out the 
[ 86 ] 


procedure by which she might lay hands on the legacy 
bequeathed to her in trust for her son, the income of 
which would now be doubly welcome in view of his 
college expenses. There the matter rested, and Mrs. 
Elsmere, during the two years which followed, thought 
little more about it. She became more and more ab- 
sorbed in her boy's immediate prospects, in the care 
of his health, which was uneven and tried somewhat 
by the strain of preparation for an attempt on the 
St. Anselm's scholarship, and in the demands which his 
ardent nature, oppressed with the weight of its own 
aspirations, was constantly making upon her support 
and sympathy. 

At last the moment so long expected arrived. Mrs. 
Elsmere and her son left Harden amid a chorus of good 
wishes, and settled themselves early in November in 
Oxford lodgings. Robert was to have a few days' com- 
plete holiday before the examination, and he and his 
mother spent it in exploring the beautiful old town, 
now shrouded in the 'pensive glooms' of still, grey 
autumn weather. There was no sun to light up the 
misty reaches of the river ; the trees in the Broad Walk 
were almost bare; the Virginian creeper no longer 
shone in patches of delicate crimson on the college 
walls; the gardens were damp and forsaken. But to 
Mrs. Elsmere and Robert the ^place needed neither 
sun nor summer 'for beauty 's* heightening.' On both 
of them it laid its old irresistible spell ; the sentiment 
haunting its quadrangles, its libraries, and its dim 
melodious chapels, stole into the lad's heart and 
alternately soothed and stimulated that keen individ- . 
ual consciousness which naturally accompanies the 
[ 87 ] 


first entrance into manhood. Here, on this soil, steeped 
in memories, his problems, his struggles were to be 
fought out in their turn. ' Take up thy manhood/ said 
the inward voice, 'and show what is in thee. The hour 
and the opportunity have come ! ' 

And to this thrill of vague expectation, this young 
sense of an expanding world, something of pathos and 
of sacredness was added by the dumb influences of the 
old streets and weather-beaten stones. How tenacious 
they were of the past ! The dreaming city seemed to be 
still brooding in the autumn calm over the long suc- 
cession of her sons. The continuity, the complexity of 
human experience ; the unremitting effort of the race ; 
the stream of purpose running through it all; these 
were the kind of thoughts which, in more or less 
inchoate and fragmentary shape, pervaded the boy's 
sensitive mind as he rambled with his mother from 
college to college. 

Mrs. Elsmere, too, was fascinated by Oxford. But 
for all her eager interest, the historic beauty of the 
place aroused in her an under-mood of melancholy, 
just as it did in Robert. Both had the impressionable 
Celtic temperament, and both felt that a critical mo- 
ment was upon them, and that the Oxford air was 
charged with fate for each of them. For the first time 
in their lives they were to be parted. The mother's 
long guardianship was coming to an end. Had she 
loved him enough? Had she so far fulfilled the trust 
her dead husband had imposed upon her? Would her 
boy love her in the new life as he had loved her in the 
old ? And could her poor craving heart bear to see 
him absorbed by fresh interests and passions, in which 

[ 88 ] 

The Lime Walk, Oxford 


her share could be only, at the best, secondary and 

One day it was on the afternoon preceding the 
examination she gave hurried, half -laughing utter- 
ance to some of these misgivings of hers. They were 
walking down the Lime-walk of Trinity Gardens ; be- 
neath their feet a yellow fresh-strewn carpet of leaves, 
brown interlacing branches overhead, and a red misty 
sun shining through the trunks. Robert understood 
his mother perfectly, and the way she had of hiding 
a storm of feeling under these tremulous comedy airs. 
So that, instead of laughing too, he took her hand and, 
there being no spectators anywhere to be seen in the 
damp November garden, he raised it to his lips with a 
few broken words of affection and gratitude which very 
nearly overcame the self-command of both of them. 
She dashed wildly into another subject, and then 
suddenly it occurred to her impulsive mind that the 
moment had come to make him acquainted with those 
dying intentions of his great-uncle which we have 
already described. The diversion was a welcome one, 
and the duty seemed clear. So, accordingly, she hiade 
him give her all his attention while she told him the 
story and the terms of Sir Mowbray's letter, forcing 
herself the while to keep her own opinions and pre- 
dilections as much as possible out of sight. 

Robert listened with interest and astonishment, the 
sense of a new-found manhood waxing once more 
strong within him, as his mind admitted the strange 
picture of himself occupying the place which had been 
his father's; master of the house and the parish he 
had wandered over with childish steps, clinging to the 
[ 89 ] 


finger or the coat of the tall, stooping figure which 
occupied the dim background of his recollections. 
'Poor mother/ he said thoughtfully, when she paused, 
'it would be hard upon you to go back to Mure- 

' Oh, you must n't think of me when the time 
comes/ said Mrs. Elsmere, sighing. 'I shall be a tire- 
some old woman, and you will be a young man want- 
ing a wife. There, put it out of your head, Robert. 
I thought I had better tell you, for, after all, the fact 
may concern your Oxford life. But you've got a long 
time yet before you need begin to worry about it.' 

The boy drew himself up to his full height, and 
tossed his tumbling reddish hair back from his eyes. 
He was nearly six feet already, with a long thin body 
and head, which amply justified his school nickname 
of 'the darning-needle.' 

'Don't you trouble either, mother/ he said, with 
a tone of decision ; ' I don't feel as if I should ever take 

Mrs. Elsmere was old enough to know what import- 
ance to attach to the trenchancy of eighteen, but still 
the words were pleasant to her. 

The next day Robert went up for examination, and 
after three days of hard work, and phases of alternate 
hope and depression, in which mother and son excited 
one another to no useful purpose, there came the 
anxious crowding round the College gate in the No- 
vember twilight, and the sudden flight of dispersing 
messengers bearing the news over Oxford. The scholar- 
ship had been won by a precocious Etonian with an 
extraordinary talent for 'stems/ and all that apper- 

[ 90 ] 


taineth thereto. But the exhibition fell to Robert, and 
mother and son were well content. 

The boy was eager to come into residence at once, 
though he would matriculate too late to keep the term. 
The College authorities were willing, and on the Satur- 
day following the announcement of his success he was 
matriculated, saw the Provost, and was informed that 
rooms would be found for him without delay. His 
mother and he gaily climbed innumerable stairs to 
inspect the garrets of which he was soon to take proud 
possession, sallying forth from them only to enjoy an 
agitated delightful afternoon among the shops. Ex- 
penditure, always charming, becomes under these 
circumstances a sacred and pontifical act. Never had 
Mrs. Elsmere bought a teapot for herself with half the 
fervour which she now threw into the purchase of 
Robert's ; and the young man, accustomed to a rather 
bare home, and an Irish lack of the little elegancies 
of life, was overwhelmed when his mother actually 
dragged him into a printseller's, and added an en- 
graving or two to the enticing miscellaneous mass 
of which he was already master. 

They only just left themselves time to rush back 
to their lodgings and dress for the solemn function 
of a dinner with the Provost. The dinner, however, was 
a great success. The short, shy manner of their white- 
haired host thawed under the influence of Mrs. Els- 
mere's racy, unaffected ways, and it was not long 
before everybody in the room had more or less made 
friends with her, and forgiven her her marvellous drab 
poplin, adorned with fresh pink ruchings for the occa- 
sion. As for the Provost, Mrs. Elsmere had been told 
[ 91 ] 


that he was a person of whom she must inevitably 
stand in awe. But all her life long she had been like the 
youth in the fairy-tale who desired to learn how to 
shiver and could not attain unto it. Fate had denied 
her the capacity of standing in awe of anybody, and 
she rushed at her host as a new type, delighting in the 
thrill which she felt creeping over her when she found 
herself on the arm of one who had been the rallying- 
point of a hundred struggles, and a centre of influence 
over thousands of English lives. 

And then followed the proud moment when Robert, 
in his exhibitioner's gown, took her to service in the 
chapel on Sunday. The scores of young faces, the full 
unison of the hymns, and finally the Provost's ser- 
mon, with its strange brusqueries and simplicities of 
manner and phrase simplicities so suggestive, so 
full of a rich and yet disciplined experience, that they 
haunted her mind for weeks afterwards completed 
the general impression made upon her by the Oxford 
life. She came out, tremulous and shaken, leaning on 
her son's arm. She, too, like the generations before her, 
had launched her venture into the deep. Her boy was 
putting out from her into the ocean; henceforth she 
could but watch him from the shore. Brought into 
contact with this imposing University organisation, 
with all its suggestions of virile energies and functions, 
the mother suddenly felt herself insignificant and for- 
saken. He had been her all, her own, and now on this 
training-ground of English youth, it seemed to her that 
the great human society had claimed him from her. 


IN his Oxford life Robert surrendered himself to the 
best and most stimulating influences of the place, 
just as he had done at school. He was a youth of many 
friends, by virtue of a natural gift of sympathy, which 
was no doubt often abused, and by no means invar- 
iably profitable to its owner, but wherein, at any rate, 
his power over his fellows, like the power of half the 
potent men in the world's history, always lay rooted. 
He had his mother's delight in living. He loved the 
cricket-field, he loved the river; his athletic instincts 
and his athletic friends were always fighting in him 
with his literary instincts and the friends who ap- 
pealed primarily to the intellectual and moral side of 
him. He made many mistakes alike in friends and in 
pursuits ; in the freshness of a young and roving curios- 
ity he had great difficulty in submitting himself to 
the intellectual routine of the University, a difficulty 
which ultimately cost him much ; but at the bottom of 
the lad, all the time, there was a strength of will, a 
force and even tyranny of conscience, which kept his 
charm and pliancy from degenerating into weakness, 
and made it not only delightful, but profitable to love 
him. He knew that his mother was bound up in him, 
and his being was set to satisfy, so far as he could, all 
her honourable ambitions. 

His many undergraduate friends, strong as their 
influence must have been in the aggregate on a nature 
[ 93 ] 


so receptive, hardly concern us here. His future life, 
so far as we can see, was most noticeably affected by 
two men older than himself, and belonging to the dons 
-both of them fellows and tutors of St. Anselm's, 
though on different planes of age. 

The first one, Edward Langham, was Robert's 
tutor, and about seven years older than himself. He 
was a man about whom, on entering the College, 
Robert heard more than the usual crop of stories. The 
healthy young English barbarian has an aversion to 
the intrusion of more manner into life than is abso- 
lutely necessary. Now, Langham was overburdened 
with manner, though it was manner of the deprecating 
and not of the arrogant order. Decisions, it seemed, 
of all sorts were abominable to him. To help a friend 
he had once consented to be Pro-proctor. He resigned 
in a month, and none of his acquaintances ever after- 
wards dared to allude to the experience. If you could 
have got at his inmost mind, it was affirmed, the per- 
sons most obnoxious there would have been found to 
be the scout, who intrusively asked him every morning 
what he would have for breakfast, and the College cook, 
who, till such a course was strictly forbidden him, 
mounted to his room at half-past nine to inquire 
whether he would 'dine in.' Being a scholar of con- 
siderable eminence, it pleased him to assume on all 
questions an exasperating degree of ignorance; and 
the wags of the College averred that when asked if it 
rained, or if collections took place on such and such 
a day, it was pain and grief to him to have to affirm 
positively, without qualifications, that so it was. 

Such a man was not very likely, one would have 
[ 94 ] 


thought, to captivate an ardent, impulsive boy like 
Elsmere. Edward Langham, however, notwithstand- 
ing undergraduate tales, was a very remarkable per- 
son. In the first place, he was possessed of exceptional 
personal beauty. His colouring was vividly black-and- 
white, closely curling jet-black hair, and fine black 
eyes contrasting with a pale, clear complexion and 
even, white teeth. So far he had the characteristics 
which certain Irishmen share with most Spaniards. 
But the Celtic or Iberian brilliance was balanced by a 
classical delicacy and precision of feature. He had the 
brow, the nose, the upper lip, the finely-moulded chin, 
which belong to the more severe and spiritual Greek 
type. Certainly of Greek blitheness and directness 
there was no trace. The eye was wavering and pro- 
foundly melancholy; all the movements of the tall, 
finely-built frame were hesitating and doubtful. It 
was as though the man were suffering from paralysis 
of some moral muscle or other ; as if some of the normal 
springs of action in him had been profoundly and per- 
manently weakened. 

He had a curious history. He was the only child of 
a doctor in a Lincolnshire country town. His old par- 
ents had brought him up in strict provincial ways, 
ignoring the boy's idiosyncrasies as much as possible. 
They did not want an exceptional and abnormal son, 
and they tried to put down his dreamy, self-conscious 
habits by forcing him into the common, middle-class, 
Evangelical groove. As soon as he got to college, how- 
ever, the brooding, gifted nature had a moment of 
sudden and, as it seemed to the old people in Gains- 
borough, most reprehensible expansion. Poems were 
[ 95 ] 


sent to them, cut out of one or the other of the leading 
periodicals, with their son's initials appended, and 
articles of philosophical art-criticism, published while 
the boy was still an undergraduate which seemed to 
the stern father everything that was sophistical and 
subversive. For they treated Christianity itself as an 
open question, and showed especially scant respect 
for the ' Protestantism of the Protestant religion.' The 
father warned him grimly that he was not going to 
spend his hard-earned savings on the support of a free- 
thinking scribbler, and the young man wrote no more 
till just after he had taken a double first in Greats. 
Then the publication of an article in one of the leading 
Reviews on 'The Ideals of Modern Culture' not only 
brought him a furious letter from home stopping all 
supplies, but also lost him a probable fellowship. His 
College was one of the narrowest and most backward 
in Oxford, and it was made perfectly plain to him 
before the fellowship examination that he would not 
be elected. 

He left the College, took pupils for a while, then 
stood for a vacant fellowship at St. Anselm's, the Lib- 
eral headquarters, and got it with flying colours. 

Thenceforward one would have thought that a bril- 
liant and favourable mental development was secured 
to him. Not at all. The moment of his quarrel with 
his father and his College had, in fact, represented a 
moment of energy, of comparative success, which never 
recurred. It was as though this outburst of action and 
liberty had disappointed him, as if some deep-rooted 
instinct cold, critical, reflective had reasserted it- 
self, condemning him and his censors equally. The 

[ 96 ] 


uselessness of utterance, the futility of enthusiasm, 
the inaccessibility of the ideal, the practical absurdity 
of trying to realise any of the mind's inward dreams: 
these were the kind of considerations which descended 
upon him, slowly and fatally, crushing down the newly 
springing growths of action or of passion. It was as 
though life had demonstrated to him the essential 
truth of a childish saying of his own which had startled 
and displeased his Calvinist mother years before. 
'Mother,' the delicate, large-eyed child had said to her 
one day in a fit of physical weariness, 'how is it I dis- 
like the things I dislike so much more than I like the 
things I like?' 

So he wrote no more, he quarrelled no more, he 
meddled with the great passionate things of life and 
expression no more. On his taking up residence in St. 
Anselm's, indeed, and on his being appointed first 
lecturer and then tutor, he had a momentary pleasure 
in the thought of teaching. His mind was a storehouse 
of thought and fact, and to the man brought up at a 
dull provincial day-school and never allowed to asso- 
ciate freely with his kind, the bright lads fresh from 
Eton and Harrow about him were singularly attract- 
ive. But a few terms were enough to scatter this illu- 
sion too. He could not be simple, he could not be 
spontaneous ; he was tormented by self-consciousness, 
and it was impossible to him to talk and behave as 
those talk and behave who have been brought up 
more or less in the big world from the beginning. So 
this dream, too, faded, for youth asks, before all 
things, simplicity and spontaneity in those who would 
take possession of it. His lectures, which were at first 
[ 97 ] 


brilliant enough to attract numbers of men from other 
colleges, became gradually mere dry, ingenious skele- 
tons, without life or feeling. It was possible to learn 
a great deal from him ; it was not possible to catch 
from him any contagion of that amor intellectualis 
which had flamed at one moment so high within him. 
He ceased to compose ; but as the intellectual faculty 
must have some employment, he became a translator, 
a contributor to dictionaries, a microscopic student 
of texts, not in the interest of anything beyond, but 
simply as a kind of mental stone-breaking. 

The only survival of that moment of glow and colour 
in his life was his love of music and the theatre. Al- 
most every year he disappeared to France to haunt 
the Paris theatres for a fortnight; to Berlin or Bay- 
reuth to drink his fill of music. He talked neither of 
music nor of acting; he made no one sharer of his 
enjoyment, if he did enjoy. It was simply his way of 
cheating his creative faculty, which, though it had 
grown impotent, was still there, still restless. Alto- 
gether a melancholy, pitiable man at once thorough- 
going sceptic and thorough-going idealist, the victim 
of that critical sense which says No to every impulse, 
and is always restlessly, and yet hopelessly, seek- 
ing the future through the neglected and outraged 

And yet the man's instincts, at this period of his life, 
at any rate, were habitually kindly and affectionate. 
He knew nothing of women, and was not liked by 
them, but it was not his fault if he made no impression 
on the youth about him. It seemed to him that he was 
always seeking in their eyes and faces for some light of 
[ 98 ] 


sympathy which was always escaping him, and which, 
he was powerless to compel. He met it for the first time^ 
in Robert Elsmere. The susceptible, poetical boy was 
struck at some favourable moment by that romantic 
side of the ineffective tutor his silence, his melan- 
choly, his personal beauty which no one else, with 
perhaps one or two exceptions among the older men, 
cared to take into account; or touched perhaps by 
some note in him, surprised in passing, of weariness or 
shrinking, as compared with the contemptuous tone of 
the College towards him. He showed his liking impetu- 
ously, boyishly, as his way was, and thenceforward 
during his University career Langham became his 
slave. He had no ambition for himself; his motto 
might have been that dismal one ' The small things 
of life are odious to me, and the habit of them enslaves 
me ; the great things of life are eternally attractive to 
me, and indolence and fear put them by ' ; but for the 
University chances of this lanky, red-haired youth - 
with his eagerness, his boundless curiosity, his genius 
for all sorts of loveable mistakes he disquieted him- 
self greatly. He tried to discipline the roving mind, 
to infuse into the boy's literary temper the delicacy, 
the precision, the subtlety of his own. His fastidious, 
critical habits of work supplied exactly that antidote 
which Elsmere 's main faults of haste and carelessness 
required. He was always holding up before him the 
inexhaustible patience and labour involved in all true 
knowledge ; and it was to the germs of critical judge- 
ment so implanted in him that Elsmere owed many of 
the later growths of his development growths with 
which we have not yet to concern ourselves. 
[ 99 ] 


And in return, the tutor allowed himself rarely, very 
rarely, a moment of utterance from the depths of his 
real self. One evening in the summer term following 
the boy's matriculation, Elsmere brought him an essay 
after Hall, and they sat on talking afterwards. It was 
a rainy, cheerless evening; the first contest of the 
Boats week had been rowed in cold wind and sleet; a 
dreary blast whistled through the College. Suddenly 
Langham reached out his hand for an open letter. 'I 
have had an offer, Elsmere/ he said abruptly. 

And he put it into his hand. It was the offer of an 
important Scotch professorship, coming from the man 
most influential in assigning it. The last occupant of 
the post had been a scholar of European eminence. 
Langham 's contributions to a great foreign review, 
and certain Oxford recommendations, were the basis 
of the present overture, which, coming from one who 
was himself a classic of the classics, was couched in 
terms flattering to any young man's vanity. 

Robert looked up with a joyful exclamation when 
he had finished the letter. 

*I congratulate you, sir/ 

'I have refused it/ said Langham abruptly. 

His companion sat open-mouthed. Young as he was, 
he knew perfectly well that this particular appoint- 
ment was one of the blue ribbons of British scholar- 

' Do you think ' said the other in a tone of singu- 
lar vibration, which had in it a note of almost con- 
temptuous irritation 'do you think 7 am the man 
to get and keep a hold on a rampagious class of hun- 
dreds of Scotch lads? Do you think / am the man to 
[ 100 ] 


carry on what Reid began Reid, that old fighter, 
that preacher of all sorts of jubilant dogmas?' 

He looked at Elsmere under his straight black brows 
imperiously. The youth felt the nervous tension in the 
elder man's voice and manner, was startled by a con- 
fidence never before bestowed upon him, close as that 
unequal bond between them had been growing during 
the six months of his Oxford life, and plucking up 
courage hurled at him a number of frank, young ex- 
postulations, which really put into friendly shape all 
that was being said about Langham in his College and 
in the University. Why was he so self-distrustful, so 
absurdly diffident of responsibility, so bent on hiding 
his great gifts under a bushel ? 

The tutor smiled sadly, and, sitting down, buried 
his head in his hands and said nothing for a while. 
Then he looked up and stretched out a hand towards 
a book which lay on a table near. It was the ' Reveries ' 
of S&iancour. ' My answer is written here, ' he said. ' It 
will seem to you now, Elsmere, mere Midsummer mad- 
ness. May it always seem so to you. Forgive me. The 
pressure of solitude sometimes is too great/ 

Elsmere looked up with one of his flashing, affec- 
tionate smiles, and took the book from Langham's 
hand. He found on the open page a marked passage : 

' Oh swiftly passing seasons of life ! There was a time 
when men seemed to be sincere; when thought was 
nourished on friendship, kindness, love; when dawn 
still kept its brilliance, and the night its peace. I can, 
the soul said to itself, and I will; I will do all that is 
right all that is natural. But soon resistance, dif- 
ficulty, unforeseen, coming we know not whence, arrest 
[ 101 ] 


us, undeceive us, and the human yoke grows heavy on 
our necks. Thenceforward we become merely sharers 
in the common woe. Hemmed in on all sides, we feel 
our faculties only to realise .their impotence : we have 
time and strength to do what we must, never what we 
will. Men go on repeating the words work, genius, sue- 
cess. Fools ! Will all these resounding projects,though 
they enable us to cheat ourselves, enable us to cheat 
the icy fate which rules us and our globe, wandering 
forsaken through the vast silence of the heavens?' 

Robert looked up startled, the book dropping from 
his hand. The words sent a chill to the heart of one 
born to hope, to will, to crave. 

Suddenly Langham dashed the volume from him, 
almost with violence. 

' Forget that drivel, Elsmere. It was a crime to show 
it to you. It is not sane ; neither perhaps am I. But 
I am not going to Scotland. They would request me 
to resign in a week/ 

Long after Elsmere, who had stayed talking a while 
on other things, had gone, Langham sat on brooding 
over the empty grate. 

'Corrupter of youth!' he said to himself once bit- 
terly. And perhaps it was to a certain remorse in the 
tutor's mind that Elsmere owed an experience of great 
importance to his after life. 

The name of a certain Mr. Grey had for some time 
before his entry at Oxford been more or less familiar 
to Robert's ears as that of a person of great influence 
and consideration at St. Anselm's. His tutor at Har- 
den had spoken of him in the boy's hearing as one of 
the most remarkable men of the generation, and had 
[ 102 ] 


several times impressed upon his pupil that nothing 
could be so desirable for him as to secure the friendship 
of such a man. It was on the occasion of his first inter- 
view with the Provost, after the scholarship examina- 
tion, that Robert was first brought face to face with 
Mr. Grey. He could remember a short dark man 
standing beside the Provost, who had been introduced 
to him by that name, but the nervousness of the mo- 
ment had been so great that the boy had been quite 
incapable of giving him any special attention. 

During his first term and a half of residence, Robert 
occasionally met Mr. Grey in the quadrangle or in the 
street, and the tutor, remembering the thin, bright- 
faced youth, would return his salutations kindly, and 
sometimes stop to speak to him, to ask him if he were 
comfortably settled in his rooms, or make a remark 
about the boats. But the acquaintance did not seem 
likely to progress, for Mr. Grey was a Greats tutor, and 
Robert naturally had nothing to do with him as far as 
work was concerned. 

However, a day or two after the conversation we 
have described, Robert, going to Langham's rooms 
late in the afternoon to return a book which had been 
lent to him, perceived two figures standing talking 
on the hearth-rug, and by the western light beating in 
recognised the thick-set frame and broad brow of Mr. 

'Come in, Elsmere/ said Langham, as he stood hesi- 
tating on the threshold. ' You have met Mr. Grey 
before, I think?' 

'We first met at an anxious moment/ said Mr. Grey, 
smiling and shaking hands with the boy. ' A first inter- 
[ 103 ] 


view with the Provost is always formidable. I remem- 
ber it too well myself. You did very well, I remember, 
Mr. Elsmere. Well, Langham, I must be off. I shall be 
late for my meeting as it is. I think we have settled 
our business. Good-night/ 

Langham stood a moment after the door closed, 
eyeing young Elsmere. There was a curious struggle 
going on in the tutor's mind. 

'Elsmere/ he said at last abruptly, 'would you like 
to go to-night and hear Grey preach?' 

'Preach!' exclaimed the lad. 'I thought he was 
a layman/ 

'So he is. It will be a lay sermon. It was always the 
custom here with the clerical tutors to address their 
men once a term before Communion Sunday, and 
some years ago, when Grey first became tutor, he 
determined, though he was a layman, to carry on the 
practice. It was an extraordinary effort, for he is a 
man to whom words on such a subject are the coining 
of his heart's blood, and he has repeated it very rarely. 
It is two years now since his last address/ 

'Of course I should like to go,' said Robert, with 
eagerness. ' Is it open ? ' 

'Strictly it is for his Greats pupils, but I can take 
you in. It is hardly meant for freshmen ; but 
well, you are far enough on to make it interesting to 

' The lad will take to Grey's influence like a fish to 
water,' thought the tutor to himself when he was 
alone, not without a strange reluctance. 'Well, no 
one can say I have not given him his opportunity to 
be "earnest."' 

[ 104 ] 


The sarcasm of the last word was the kind of sar- 
casm which a man of his type in an earlier generation 
might have applied to the 'earnestness' of an Arnold- 
ian Rugby. 

At eight o'clock that evening Robert found himself 
crossing the quadrangle with Langham on the way to 
one of the larger lecture-rooms, which was to be the 
scene of the address. The room when they got in was 
already nearly full, all the working fellows of the Col- 
lege were present, and a body of some thirty men be- 
sides, most of them already far on in their University 
career. A minute or two afterwards Mr. Grey entered. 
The door opening on to the quadrangle, where the trees, 
undeterred by east wind, were just bursting into leaf, 
was shut; and the little assembly knelt, while Mr. 
Grey's voice with its broad intonation, in which a 
strong native homeliness lingered under the gentleness 
of accent, recited the collect 'Lord of all power and 
might/ a silent pause following the last words. Then 
the audience settled itself, and Mr. Grey, standing by 
a small deal table with the gaslight behind him, began 
his address. 

All the main points of the experience which followed 
stamped themselves on Robert's mind with extraordi- 
nary intensity. Nor did he ever lose the memory of the 
outward scene. In after years, memory could always 
recall to him at will the face and figure of the speaker, 
the massive head, the deep eyes sunk under the brows, 
the Midland accent, the make of limb and feature 
which seemed to have some suggestion in them of the 
rude strength and simplicity of a peasant ancestry; 
and then the nobility, the fire, the spiritual beauty 
I 105 ] 


flashing through it all ! Here, indeed, was a man on 
whom his fellows might lean, a man in whom the gen- 
eration of spiritual force was so strong and continu- 
ous that it overflowed of necessity into the poorer, 
barrener lives around him, kindling and enriching. 
Robert felt himself seized and penetrated, filled with 
a fervour and an admiration which he was too young 
and immature to analyse, but which was to be none 
the less potent and lasting. 

Much of the sermon itself, indeed, was beyond him. 
It was on the meaning of St. Paul's great conception, 
'Death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness/ 
What did the Apostle mean by a death to sin and self? 
What were the precise ideas attached to the words 
'risen with Christ'? Are this death and this resurrec- 

( tion necessarily dependent upon certain alleged his- 

L torical events? Or are they not primarily, and were 
they not, even in the mind of St. Paul, two aspects 
of a spiritual process perpetually re-enacted in the 
soul of man, and constituting the veritable revela- 
tion of God ? Which is the stable and lasting witness 
-of the Father : the spiritual history of the individ- 
ual and the world, or the envelope of miracle to 
which hitherto mankind has attributed so much im- 

Mr. Grey's treatment of these questions was clothed, 
throughout a large portion of the lecture, in meta- 
physical language, which no boy fresh from school , how- 
ever intellectually quick, could be expected to follow 
with any precision. It was not, therefore, the argu- 
ment, or the logical structure of the sermon, which so 
profoundly affected young Elsmere. It was the speaker 
[ 106 ] 


himself, and the occasional passages in which, address- 
ing himself to the practical needs of his hearers, he put 
before them the claims and conditions of the higher 
life with a pregnant simplicity and rugged beauty of 
phrase. Conceit, selfishness, vice how, as he spoke 
of them, they seemed to wither from his presence! 
How the 'pitiful, earthy self with its passions and its 
cravings sank into nothingness beside the 'great ideas' 
and the 'great causes' for which, as Christians and as 
men, he claimed their devotion. 

To the boy sitting among the crowd at the back of 
the room, his face supported in his hands and his 
gleaming eyes fixed on the speaker, it seemed as if all 
the poetry and history through which a restless curi- 
osity and ideality had carried him so far, took a new 
meaning from this experience. It was by men like this 
that the moral progress of the world had been shaped 
and inspired ; he felt brought near to the great primal 
forces breathing through the divine workshop ; and in 
place of natural disposition and reverent compliance, > 
there sprang up in him suddenly an actual burning 
certainty of belief. ' Axioms are not axioms, ' said poor 
Keats, 'till they have been proved upon our pulses'; 
and the old familiar figure of the divine combat, of the 
struggle in which man and God are one, was proved 
once more upon a human pulse on that May night, in 
the hush of that quiet lecture-room. 

As the little moving crowd of men dispersed over 
the main quadrangle to their respective staircases, 
Langham and Robert stood together a moment in the 
windy darkness, lit by the occasional glimmering of 
a cloudy moon. 

[ 107 ] 


'Thank you, thank you, sir!' said the lad, eager 
and yet afraid to speak, lest he should break the spell 
of memory. ' I should be sorry indeed to have missed 

'Yes, it was fine, extraordinarily fine, the best he 
has ever given, I think. Good-night/ 

And Langham turned away, his head sunk on his 
breast, his hands behind him. Robert went to his 
room conscious of a momentary check of feeling. But 
it soon passed, and he sat up late, thinking of the ser- 
mon, or pouring out in a letter to his mother the new 
hero-worship of which his mind was full. 

A few days later, as it happened, came an invitation 
to the junior exhibitioner to spend an evening at Mr. 
Grey's house. Elsmere went in a state of curious eag- 
erness and trepidation, and came away with a number 
of fresh impressions which, when he had put them into 
order, did but quicken his new-born sense of devotion. 
The quiet unpretending house with its exquisite neat- 
ness and its abundance of books, the family life, with 
the heart-happiness underneath, and the gentle trust 
and courtesy on the surface, the little touches of aus- 
terity which betrayed themselves here and there in 
the household ways all these surroundings stole 
into the lad's imagination, touched in him responsive 
fibres of taste and feeling. 

But there was some surprise, too, mingled with the 
charm. He came, still shaken, as it were, by the power 
of the sermon, expecting to see in the preacher of it 
the outward and visible signs of a leadership which, 
as he already knew, was a great force in Oxford life. 
His mood was that of the disciple only eager to be en- 
[ 108 ] 


rolled. And what he found was a quiet, friendly host, 
surrounded by a group of men talking the ordinary 
pleasant Oxford chit-chat the river, the schools, the 
Union, the football matches, and so on. Every now 
and then, as Elsmere stood at the edge of the circle 
listening, the rugged face in the centre of it would 
break into a smile, or some boyish speaker would elicit 
the low spontaneous laugh in which there was such 
a sound of human fellowship, such a genuine note of 
self-forgetfulness. Sometimes the conversation strayed 
into politics, and then Mr. Grey, an eager politician, 
would throw back his head, and talk with more sparkle 
and rapidity, flashing occasionally into grim humour 
which seemed to throw light on the innate strength 
and pugnacity of the peasant and Puritan breed from 
which he sprang. Nothing could be more unlike the 
inspired philosopher, the mystic surrounded by an 
adoring school, whom Robert had been picturing to 
himself in his walk up to the house, through the soft 
May twilight. 

It was not long before the tutor had learned to take 
much kindly notice of the ardent and yet modest ex- 
hibitioner, in whose future it was impossible not to 
feel a sympathetic interest. 

' You will always find us on Sunday afternoons, be- 
fore chapel/ he said to him one day as they parted, 
after watching a football match in the damp mists of 
the Park, and the boy's flush of pleasure showed how 
much he valued the permission. 

For three years those Sunday half-hours were the 
great charm of Robert Elsmere 's life. When he came 
to look back upon them, he could remember nothing 
[ 109 ] 


very definite. A few interesting scraps of talk about 
books ; a good deal of talk about politics, showing in 
the tutor a living interest in the needs and training 
of that broadening democracy on which the future of 
England rests; a few graphic sayings about individ- 
uals ; above all, a constant readiness on the host's part 
to listen, to sit quiet, with the slight unconscious look 
of fatigue which was so eloquent of a strenuous intel- 
lectual life, taking kindly heed of anything that sin- 
cerity, even a stupid awkward sincerity, had got to 
say these were the sort of impressions they had left 
behind them, re-enforced always, indeed, by the one 
continuous impression of a great soul speaking with 
difficulty and labour, but still clearly, still effectually, 
through an unblemished series of noble acts and 

Term after term passed away. Mrs. Elsmere became 
more and more proud of her boy, and more and more 
assured that her years of intelligent devotion to him 
had won her his en tire love and confidence, 'so long as 
they both should live/ She came up to see him once 
or twice, making Langham almost flee the University 
because she would be grateful to him in public, and 
attending the boat-races in festive attire to which she 
had devoted the most anxious attention for Robert's 
sake, and which made her, dear, good, impracticable 
soul, the observed of all observers. When she came 
she and Robert talked all day, so far as lectures al-, 
lowed, and most of the night, after their own eager, 
improvident fashion; and she soon gathered, with 
that solemn, half-tragic sense of change which besets 
a mother's heart at such a moment, that there were 

[ no ] 


many new forces at work in her boy's mind, deep un- 
der-currents of feeling, stirred in him by the Oxford 
influences, which must before long rise powerfully to 
the surface. 

He was passing from a bright buoyant lad into a 
man, and a man of ardour and conviction. And the 
chief instrument in the transformation was Mr. Grey. 

Elsmere got his first in Moderations easily. But the 
Final Schools were a different matter. In the first days 
of his return to Oxford, in the October of his third 
year, while he was still making up his lecture list, and 
taking a general oversight of the work demanded from 
him, before plunging definitely into it, he was op- 
pressed with a sense that the two years lying before 
him constituted a problem which would be harder to 
solve than any which had yet been set him. It seemed 
to him in a moment which was one of some slackness 
and reaction, that he had been growing too fast. He 
had been making friends besides in far too many 
camps, and the thought, half attractive, half repel- 
lent, of all those midnight discussions over smoulder- 
ing fires, which Oxford was preparing for him, those 
fascinating moments of intellectual fence with minds 
as eager and as crude as his own, and of all the delight- 
ful dipping into the very latest literature, which such 
moments encouraged and involved, seemed to convey 
a sort of warning to the boy's will that it was not equal 
to the situation. He was neither dull enough nor great 
enough for a striking Oxford success. How was he to 
prevent himself from attempting impossibilities and 
achieving a final mediocrity? He felt a dismal cer- 
tainty that he should never be able to control the 


strayings of will and curiosity, now into this path, 
now into that; and a still stronger and genuine cer- 
tainty that it is not by such digression that a man 
gets up the Ethics or the Annals. 

Langham watched him with a half-irritable atten- 
tion. In spite of the paralysis of all natural ambitions 
in himself, he was illogically keen that Elsmere should 
win the distinctions of the place. He, the most labor- 
ious, the most disinterested of scholars, turned himself 
almost into a crammer for Elsmere 's benefit. He 
abused the lad's multifarious reading, declared it 
was no better than dram-drinking, and even preached 
to him an ingenious variety of mechanical aids to mem- 
ory and short cuts to knowledge, till Robert would 
turn round upon him with some triumphant retort 
drawn from his own utterances at some sincerer and 
less discreet moment. In vain. Langham felt a dismal 
certainty before many weeks were over that Elsmere 
would miss his first in Greats. He was too curious, too 
restless, too passionate about many things. Above all 
he was beginning, in the tutor's opinion, to concern 
himself disastrously early with that most overwhelm- 
ing and most brain-confusing of all human interests 
the interest of religion. Grey had made him 'earnest' 
with a vengeance. 

Elsmere was now attending Grey's philosophical 
lectures, following them with enthusiasm, and making 
use of them, as so often happens, for the defence and 
fortification of views quite other than his teacher's. 
The whole basis of Grey's thought was ardently ideal- 
ist and Hegelian. He had broken with the popular 
Christianity, but for him, God, consciousness, duty, 


were the only realities. None of the various forms of 
materialist thought escaped his challenge ; no genuine 
utterance of the spiritual life of man but was sure of his 
sympathy. It was known that after having prepared 
himself for the Christian ministry he had remained 
a layman because it had become impossible to him 
accept miracle ; and it was evident that the commoner 
type of Churchmen regarded him as an antagonist all 
the more dangerous because he was so sympathetic. 
But the negative and critical side of him was what in 
reality told least upon his pupils. He was reserved, 
he talked with difficulty, and his respect for the im- 
maturity of the young lives near him was complete. 
So that what he sowed others often reaped, or to quote 
the expression of a well-known rationalist about him : 
'The Tories were always carrying off his honey to 
their hive/ Elsmere, for instance, took in all that 
Grey had to give, drank in all the ideal fervour, the 
spiritual enthusiasm of the great tutor, and then as 
Grey himself would have done some twenty years 
earlier, carried his religious passion so stimulated into 
the service of the great positive tradition around him. 
And at that particular moment in Oxford history, 
the passage from philosophic idealism to glad acquies- 
cence in the received Christian system, was a pecul- 
iarly easy one. It was the most natural thing in the 
world that a young man of Elsmere 's temperament 
should rally to the Church. The place was passing 
through one of those periodical crises of reaction 
against an overdriven rationalism, which show them- 
selves with tolerable regularity in any great centre of 
intellectual activity. It had begun to be recognised, 


with a great burst of enthusiasm and astonishment, 
that, after all, Mill and Herbert Spencer had not said 
the last word on all things in heaven and earth. And 
now there was exaggerated recoil. A fresh wave of 
religious romanticism was fast gathering strength ; the 
spirit of Newman had reappeared in the place which 
Newman had loved and left; religion was becoming 
once more popular among the most trivial souls, and a 
deep reality among a large proportion of the nobler ones. 
With this movement of opinion Robert had very 
soon found himself in close and sympathetic contact. 
The meagre impression left upon his boyhood by the 
somewhat grotesque succession of the Harden curates, 
and by his mother's shafts of wit at their expense, 
was soon driven out of him by the stateliness and 
comely beauty of the Church order as it was revealed 
to him at Oxford. The religious air, the solemn beauty 
of the place itself, its innumerable associations with an 
organised and venerable faith, the great public func- 
tions and expressions of that faith, possessed the boy's 
imagination more and more. As he sat in the under- 
graduates' gallery at St. Mary's on the Sundays, when 
the great High Church preacher of the moment oc- 
cupied the pulpit, and looked down on the crowded 
building, full of grave black-gowned figures, and 
framed in one continuous belt of closely packed, boy- 
ish faces; as he listened to the preacher's vibrating 
voice, rising and falling with the orator's instinct for 
musical effect; or as he stood up with the great sur- 
rounding body of undergraduates to send the melody 
of some Latin hymn rolling into the far recesses of the 
choir, the sight and the experience touched his inmost 
[ "4 J 

The Towing-Path, Oxford 


feeling, and satisfied all the poetical and dramatic in- 
stincts of a passionate nature. The system behind the 
sight took stronger and stronger hold upon him ; he 
began to wish ardently and continuously to become 
a part of it, to cast in his lot definitely with it. 

One May evening he was wandering by himself 
along the towing-path which skirts the upper river, 
a prey to many thoughts, to forebodings about the 
schools which were to begin in three weeks, and to 
speculations as to how his mother would take the news 
of the second class, which he himself felt to be inevit- 
able. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, there flashed 
into his mind the little conversation with his mother, 
which had taken place nearly four years before, in the 
garden at Trinity. He remembered the antagonism 
which the idea of a clerical life for him had raised in 
both of them, and a smile at his own ignorance and his 
mother's prejudice passed over his quick young face. 
He sat down on the grassy bank, a mass of reeds at his 
feet, the shadows of the poplars behind him lying 
across the still river; and opposite, the wide green 
expanse of the great town-meadow, dotted with white 
patches of geese and herds of grazing horses. There, 
with a sense of something solemn and critical passing 
over him, he began to dream out his future life. 

And when he rose half an hour afterwards, and 
turned his steps homewards, he knew with an inward 
tremor of heart that the next great step of the way was 
practically taken. For there by the gliding river, and 
in view of the distant Oxford spires, which his fancy 
took to witness the act, he had vowed himself in prayer 
and self-abasement to the ministry of the Church. 


During the three weeks that followed he made some 
frantic efforts to make up lost ground. He had not 
been idle for a single day, but he had been unwise, an 
intellectual spendthrift, living in a continuous succes- 
sion of enthusiasms, and now at the critical moment 
his stock of nerve and energy was at a low ebb. He 
went in depressed and tired, his friends watching anx- 
iously for the result. On the day of the Logic paper, as 
he emerged into the Schools quadrangle, he felt his 
arm caught by Mr. Grey. 

'Come with me for a walk, Elsmere; you look as if 
some air would do you good/ 

Robert acquiesced, and the two men turned into the 
passageway leading out on to Radcliffe Square. 

'I have done for myself, sir/ said the youth with a 
sigh, half impatience, half depression. ' It seems to me 
to-day that I had neither mind nor memory. If I get 
a second I shall be lucky/ 

'Oh, you will get your second whatever happens/ 
said Mr. Grey quietly, 'and you must n't be too much 
cast down about it if you don't get your first/ 

This implied acceptance of his partial defeat, coming 
from another's lips, struck the excitable Robert like 
a lash. It was only what he had been saying to himself, 
but in the most pessimist forecasts we make for our- 
selves, there is always an under-protest of hope. 

'I have been wasting my time here lately/ he said, 
hurriedly raising his college cap from his brows as if it 
oppressed them, and pushing his hair back with a 
weary restless gesture. 

'No/ said Mr. Grey, turning his kind frank eyes 
upon him. 'As far as general training goes, you have 

r us ] 


not wasted your time at all. There are many clever 
men who don't get a first class, and yet it is good for 
them to be here so long as they are not loungers and 
idlers, of course. And you have not been a lounger ; 
you have been headstrong, and a little over-confident, 
perhaps/ --the speaker's smile took all the sting out 
of the words, - ' but you have grown into a man, and 
you are fit now for man's work. Don't let yourself be 
depressed, Elsmere. You will do better in life than 
you have done in examination.' 

The young man was deeply touched. This tone of 
personal comment and admonition was very rare with 
Mr. Grey. He felt a sudden consciousness of a shared 
burden which was infinitely soothing, and though he 
made no answer, his face lost something of its harassed 
look as the two walked on together down Oriel Street 
and into Merton Meadows. 

. ''Have you any immediate plans?' said Mr. Grey, 
as they turned into the Broad Walk, now in the full 
leafage of June, and rustling under a brisk western 
wind blowing from the river. 

'No ; at least I suppose it will be no good my trying 
for a Fellowship. But I meant to tell you, sir, of one 
thing I have made up my mind to take orders.' 

'You have? When?' 

' Quite lately. So that fixes me, I suppose, to come 
back for divinity lectures in the autumn/ 

Mr. Grey said nothing for a while, and they strolled 
in and out of the great shadows thrown by the elms 
across their path. 

'You feel no difficulties in the way?' he asked at 
last, with a certain quick brusqueness of manner. 


'No/ said Robert eagerly. 'I never had any. Per- 
haps/ he added, with a sudden humility, 'it is because 
I have never gone deep enough. What I believe might 
have been worth more if I had had more struggle ; but 
it has all seemed so plain/ * 

The young voice speaking with hesitation and 
reserve, and yet with a deep inner conviction, was 
pleasant to hear. Mr. Grey turned towards it, and the 
great eyes under the furrowed brow had a peculiar 
gentleness of expression. 

'You will probably be very happy in the life/ he 
said. 'The Church wants men of your sort/ 

But through all the sympathy of the tone Robert 
was conscious of a veil between them. He knew, of 
course, pretty much what it was, and with a sudden 
impulse he felt that he would have given worlds to 
break through it and talk frankly with this man 
whom he revered beyond all others, wide as was 
the intellectual difference between them. But the 
tutor's reticence and the younger man's respect pre- 
vented it. 

When the unlucky second class was actually pro- 
claimed to the world, Langham took it to heart per- 
haps more than either Elsmere or his mother. No one 
knew better than he what Elsmere 's gifts were. It was 
absurd that he should not have made more of them in 
sight of the public. 'Le cUricalisme, voila I'ennemi!' 
was about the gist of Langham 's mood during the days 
that followed on the class list. 

Elsmere, however, did not divulge his intention of 
taking orders to him till ten days afterwards, when 
he had carried off Langham to stay at Harden, and he 

The Broad Walk, Oxford 


and his old tutor were smoking in his mother's little 
garden one moonlit night. 

When he had finished his statement Langham stood 
still a moment watching the wreaths of smoke as they 
curled and vanished. The curious interest in Elsmere's 
career, which during a certain number of months had 
made him almost practical, almost energetic, had dis- 
appeared. He was his own languid, paradoxical self. 

'Well, after all/ he said at last, very slowly, 'the 
difficulty lies in preaching anything. One may as well 
preach a respectable mythology as anything else/ 

'What do you mean by a mythology?' cried Robert 

'Simply ideas, or experiences, personified/ said 
Langham, puffing away. 'I take it they are the 
subject-matter of all theologies/ 

'I don't understand you/ said Robert, flushing. 
'To the Christian, facts have been the medium by 
which ideas the world could not otherwise have come 
at have been communicated to man. Christian theo- 
logy is a system of ideas indeed, but of ideas realised, 
made manifest in facts.' 

Langham looked at him for a moment, undecided ; 
then that suppressed irritation we have already spoken 
of broke through. ' How do you know they are facts? ' 
he said drily. 

The younger man took up the challenge with all his 
natural eagerness, and the conversation resolved itself 
into a discussion of Christian evidences. Or rather 
Robert held forth, and Langham kept him going by an 
occasional remark which acted like the prick of a spur. 
The tutor's psychological curiosity was soon satisfied. 


He declared to himself that the intellect had precious 
little to do with Elsmere's Christianity. He had got 
hold of all the stock apologetic arguments, and used 
them, his companion admitted, with ability and in- 
genuity. But they were merely the outworks of the 
citadel. The inmost fortress was held by something 
wholly distinct from intellectual conviction by 
moral passion, by love, by feeling, by that mysticism, 
in short, which no healthy youth should be without. 

'He imagines he has satisfied his intellect/ was the 
inward comment of one of the most melancholy of 
sceptics, 'and he has never so much as exerted it. 
What a brute I am to protest ! ' 

And suddenly Langharn threw up the sponge. He 
held out his hand to his companion, a momentary 
gleam of tenderness in his black eyes, such as on one 
or two critical occasions before had disarmed the 
impetuous Elsmere. 

'No use to discuss it further. You have a strong 
case, of course, and you have put it well. Only, when 
you are pegging away at reforming and enlightening 
the world, don't trample too much on the people who 
have more than enough to do to enlighten them- 

As to Mrs. Elsmere, in this new turn of her son's 
fortunes, she realised with humorous distinctness that 
for some years past Robert had been educating her as 
well as himself. Her old rebellious sense of something 
inherently absurd in the clerical status had been 
gradually slain in her by her long contact through him 
with the finer and more imposing aspects of church 
life. She was still on light skirmishing terms with 
[ 120 ] 


the Harden curates, and at times she would flame out 
into the wildest, wittiest threats and gibes, for the 
momentary satisfaction of her own essentially lay 
instincts; but at bottom she knew perfectly well that, 
when the moment came, no mother could be more 
loyal, more easily imposed upon, than she would be. 

' I suppose, then, Robert, we shall be back at Mure- 
well before very long/ she said to him one morning 
abruptly, studying him the while out of her small 
twinkling eyes. What dignity there was already in the 
young lightly-built frame! what frankness and char- 
acter in the irregular, attractive face ! 

'Mother/ cried Elsmere indignantly, 'what do you 
take me for? Do you imagine I am going to bury my- 
self in the country at five- or six-and -twenty, take six 
hundred a year, and nothing to do for it? That would 
be a deserter's act indeed/ 

Mrs. Elsmere shrugged her shoulders. 'Oh, I sup- 
posed you would insist on killing yourself, to begin 
with. To most people nowadays that seems to be the 
necessary preliminary of a useful career/ 

Robert laughed and kissed her, but her question had 
stirred him so much that he sat down that very even- 
ing to write to his cousin Mowbray Elsmere. He an- 
nounced to him that he was about to read for orders, 
and that at the same time he relinquished all claim on 
the living of Murewell. ' Do what you like with it when 
it falls vacant/ he wrote, 'without reference to me. 
My views are strong that before a clergyman in health 
and strength, and in no immediate want of money, 
allows himself the luxury of a country parish, he is 
bound, for some years at any rate, to meet the chal- 


lenge of evil and poverty where the fight is hardest - 
among our English town population/ 

Sir Mowbray Elsmere replied curtly in a day or two 
to the effect that Robert's letter seemed to him super- 
fluous. He, Sir Mowbray, had nothing to do with his 
cousin's views. When the living was vacant the 
present holder, however, was uncommon tough and 
did not mean dying he should follow out the in- 
structions of his father's will, and if Robert did not 
want the thing he could say so. 

In the autumn Robert and his mother went back to 
Oxford. The following spring he redeemed his Oxford 
reputation completely by winning a Fellowship at 
Merton after a brilliant fight with some of the best 
men of his year, and in June he was ordained. 

In the summer term some teaching work was offered 
him at Merton, and by Mr. Grey's advice he accepted 
it, thus postponing for a while that London curacy and 
that stout grapple with human need at its sorest for 
which his soul was pining. 'Stay here a year or two,' 
Grey said bluntly; 'you are at the beginning of your 
best learning time, and you are not one of the natures 
who can do without books. You will be all the better 
worth having afterwards, and there is no lack of work 
here for a man's moral energies.' 

Langham took the same line, and Elsmere sub- 
mitted. Three happy and fruitful years followed. The 
young lecturer developed an amazing power of work. 
That concentration which he had been unable to 
achieve for himself his will was strong enough to main- 
tain when it was a question of meeting the demands 
of a college class in which he was deeply interested. 


He became a stimulating and successful teacher, and 
one of the most popular of men. His passionate sense 
of responsibility towards his pupils made him load 
himself with burdens to which he was constantly 
physically unequal, and fill the vacations almost as 
full as the terms. And as he was comparatively a man 
of means, his generous impetuous temper was able to 
gratify itself in ways that would have been impossible 
to others. The story of his summer reading parties, 
for instance, if one could have unravelled it, would 
have been found to be one long string of acts of kind- 
ness towards men poorer and duller than himself. 

At the same tkne he formed close and eager relations 
with the heads of the religious party in Oxford. His 
mother's Evangelical training of him and Mr. Grey's 
influence, together, perhaps, with certain drifts of 
temperament, prevented him from becoming a High 
Churchman. The sacramental, ceremonial view of the 
Church never took hold upon him. But to the English 
Church as a great national institution for the promo- 
tion of God's work on earth no one could have been 
more deeply loyal, and none coming close to him could 
mistake the fervour and passion of his Christian feel- 
ing. At the same time he did not know what rancour 
or bitterness meant, so that men of all shades of 
Christian belief reckoned a friend in him, and he 
went through life surrounded by an unusual, perhaps 
a dangerous amount of liking and affection. He threw 
himself ardently into the charitable work of Oxford, 
now helping a High Church vicar, and now toiling with 
Grey and one or two other Liberal Fellows, at the 
maintenance of a coffee-palace and lecture-room just 
[ 123 ] 


started by them in one of the suburbs; while in the 
second year of his lectureship the success of some first 
attempts at preaching fixed the attention of the 
religious leaders upon him as upon a man certain to 
make his mark. 

So the three years passed years not, perhaps, of 
great intellectual advance, for other forces in him than 
those of the intellect were mainly to the fore, but years 
certainly of continuous growth in character and moral 
experience. And at the end of them Mowbray Elsmere 
made his offer, and it was accepted. 

The secret of it, of course, was overwork. Mrs. 
Elsmere, from the little house in Merton Street, where 
she had established herself, had watched her boy's 
meteoric career through these crowded months with 
very frequent misgivings. No one knew better than she 
that Robert was constitutionally not of the toughest 
fibre, and she realised long before he did that the 
Oxford life as he was bent on leading it must end for 
him in premature breakdown. But, as always happens, 
neither her remonstrances, nor Mr. Grey's common 
sense, nor Langham's fidgety protests had any effect 
on the young enthusiast to whom self-slaughter came 
so easy. During the latter half of his third year of 
teaching he was continually being sent away by the 
doctors, and coming back only to break down again. 
At last, in the January of his fourth year, the collapse 
became so decided that he consented, bribed by the 
prospect of the Holy Land, to go away for three 
months to Egypt and the East, accompanied by his 
mother and a college friend. 

Just before their departure news reached him of the 
[ 124 ] 


death of the rector of Murewell, followed by a formal 
offer of the living from Sir Mowbray. At the moment 
when the letter arrived he was feeling desperately 
tired and ill, and in after-life he never forgot the half- 
superstitious thrill and deep sense of depression with 
which he received it. For within him was a slowly- 
emerging, despairing conviction that he was indeed 
physically unequal to the claims of his Oxford work, 
and if so, still more unequal to grappling with the 
hardest pastoral labour and the worst forms of Eng- 
lish poverty. And the coincidence of the Murewell in- 
cumbent's death struck his sensitive mind as a Divine 

But it was a painful defeat. He took the letter to 
Grey, and Grey strongly advised him to accept. 

'You overdrive your scruples, Elsmere/ said the 
Liberal tutor with emphasis. 'No one can say a living 
with twelve hundred souls, and no curate, is a sine- 
cure. As for hard town work, it is absurd you could 
n't stand it. And after all, I imagine, there are some 
souls worth saving out of the towns.' 

Elsmere pointed out vindictively that family livings 
were a corrupt and indefensible institution. Mr. Grey 
replied calmly that they probably were, but that the 
fact did not affect, so far as he could see, Elsmere 's 
competence to fulfil all the duties of rector of Mure- 

'After all, my dear fellow/ he said, a smile breaking 
over his strong expressive face, 'it is well even for re- 
formers to be sane/ 

Mrs. Elsmere was passive. It seemed to her that 
she had foreseen it all along. She was miserable about 
[ 125 ] 


his health, but she too had a moment of superstition, 
and would not urge him. Mure well was no name of 
happy omen to her she had passed the darkest 
hours of her life there. 

In the end Robert asked, for delay, which was 
grudgingly granted him. Then he and his mother and 
friend fled overseas : he feverishly determined to get 
well and cheat the fates. But, after a halcyon time in 
Palestine and Constantinople, a whiff of poisoned air 
at Cannes, on their way home, acting on a low con- 
stitutional state, settled matters. Robert was laid up 
for weeks with malarious fever, and when he struggled 
out again into the hot Riviera sunshine it was clear to 
himself and everybody else that he must do what he 
could, and not what he would, in the Christian vine- 

'Mother/ he said one day, suddenly looking up at 
her as she sat near him working, 'can you be happy 
at Murewell?' 

There was a wistfulness in the long thin face, and a 
pathetic accent of surrender in the voice, which hurt 
the mother's heart. 

'I can be happy wherever you are/ she said, laying 
her brown nervous hand on his blanched one. 

'Then give me pen and paper and let me write to 
Mowbray. I wonder whether the place has changed at 
all. Heigh ho ! How is one to preach to people who 
have stuffed you up with gooseberries, or swung you 
on gates, or lifted you over puddles to save your petti- 
coats? I wonder what has become of that boy whom 
I hit in the eye with my bow and arrow, or of that 
other lout who pummelled me into the middle of next 


week for disturbing his bird-trap ! By the way, is the 
Squire is Roger Wendover living at the Hall 

He turned to his mother with a sudden start of 

'So I hear/ said Mrs. Elsmere drily. 'He won't be 
much good to you/ 

He sat on meditating while she went for pen and 
paper. He had forgotten the Squire of Murewell. But 
Roger Wendover, the famous and eccentric owner of 
Murewell Hall, hermit and scholar, possessed of one of 
the most magnificent libraries in England, and author 
of books which had carried a revolutionary shock into 
the heart of English society, was not a figure to be 
overlooked by any rector of Murewell, least of all by 
one possessed of Robert's culture and imagination. 

The young man ransacked his memory on the sub- 
ject with a sudden access of interest in his new home 
that was to be. 

Six weeks later they were in England, and Robert, 
now convalescent, had accepted an invitation to spend 
a month in Long Whindale with his mother's cousins, 
the Thornburghs, who offered him quiet, and bracing 
air. He was to enter on his duties at Murewell in July, 
the bishop, who had been made aware of his Oxford 
reputation, welcoming the new recruit to the diocese 
with marked warmth of manner. 


AGNES, if you want any tea, here it is/ cried Rose, 
calling from outside through the dining-room window ; 
'and tell mamma/ 

It was the first of June, and the spell of warmth 
in which Robert Elsmere had arrived was still main- 
taining itself. An intelligent foreigner dropped into 
the flower-sprinkled valley might have believed that, 
after all, England, and even Northern England, had a 
summer. Early in the season as it was, the sun was 
already drawing the colour out of the hills ; the young 
green, hardly a week or two old, was darkening. Ex- 
cept the oaks. They were brilliance itself against the 
luminous grey-blue sky. So were the beeches, their 
young downy leaves just unpacked, tumbling loosely 
open to the light. But the larches and the birches 
and the hawthorns were already sobered by a longer 
acquaintance with life and Phoebus. 

Rose sat fanning herself with a portentous hat, 
which when in its proper place served her, apparently, 
both as hat and as parasol. She seemed to have been 
running races with a fine collie, who lay at her feet 
panting, but studying her with his bright eyes, and 
evidently ready to be off again at the first indication 
that his playmate had recovered her wind. Chattie 
was coming lazily over the lawn, stretching each leg 
behind her as she walked, tail arched, green eyes flam- 
ing in the sun, a model of treacherous beauty. 
[ 128 ] 


' Chattie, you fiend, come here ! ' cried Rose, holding 
out a hand to her; 'if Miss Barks were ever pretty she 
must have looked like you at this moment/ 

'I won't have Chattie put upon/ said Agnes, es- 
tablishing herself at the other side of the little tea- 
table; 'she has done you no harm. Come to me, 
beastie. / won't compare you to disagreeable old 

The cat looked from one sister to the other, blinking ; 
then with a sudden magnificent spring leaped on to 
Agnes 's lap and curled herself up there. 

'Nothing but cupboard love/ said Rose scornfully, 
in answer to Agnes's laugh; 'she knows you will give 
her bread-and-butter and I won't, out of a double re- 
gard for my skirts and her morals. Oh, dear me ! Miss 
Barks was quite seraphic last night; she never made 
a single remark about my clothes, and she did n't even 
say to me as she generally does, with an air of compas- 
sion, that she "quite understands how hard it must be 
to keep in tune." J 

'The amusing thing was Mrs. Seaton and Mr. Els- 
mere,' said Agnes. 'I just love, as Mrs. Thornburgh 
says, to hear her instructing other people in their own 
particular trades. She did n't get much change out of 

Rose gave Agnes her tea, and then, bending for- 
ward, with one hand on her heart, said in a stage 
whisper, with a dramatic glance round the garden, 
'My heart is whole. How is yours?' 

'Intact, 1 said Agnes calmly, 'as that French bric-a- 
brac man in the Brompton Road used to say of his pots. 
But he is very nice/ 

[ 129 ] 


'Oh, charming! But when my destiny arrives' 
and Rose, returning to her tea, swept her little hand 
with a teaspoon in it eloquently round 'he won't 
have his hair cut close. I must have luxuriant locks, 
and I will take no excuse ! Une chevelure de poete, the 
eye of an eagle, the moustache of a hero, the hand of a 
Rubinstein, and, if it pleases him, the temper of a fiend. 
He will be odious, insufferable for all the world besides, 
except for me; and for me he will be heaven.' 

She threw herself back, a twinkle in her bright eye, 
but a little flush of something half-real on her cheek. 

'No doubt,' said Agnes drily. 'But you can't won- 
der if under the circumstances I don't pine for a bro- 
ther-in-law. To return to the subject, however, 
Catherine liked him. She said so.' 

'Oh, that does n't count,' replied Rose discontent- 
edly ; ' Catherine likes everybody of a certain sort - 
and everybody likes Catherine.' 

'Does that mean, Miss Hasty,' said her sister, 'that 
you have made up your mind Catherine will never 

'Marry!' cried Rose. 'You might as well talk of 
marrying Westminster Abbey.' 

Agnes looked at her attentively. Rose's fun had 
a decided lack of sweetness. 'After all,' she said de- 
murely, 'Saint Elizabeth married.' 

'Yes, but then she was a princess. Reasons of 
State. If Catherine were "her Royal Highness" it 
would be her duty to marry, which would just make 
all the difference. Duty! I hate the word.' 

And Rose took up a fir-cone lying near and threw 
it at the nose of the collie, who made a jump at it, and 
[ 130 ] 


then resumed an attitude of blinking and dignified 
protest against his mistress's follies. 

Agnes again studied her sister. ' What 's the matter 
with you, Rose?' 

'The usual thing, my dear/ replied Rose curtly, 
'only more so. I had a letter this morning from Carry ' 
Ford the daughter, you know, of those nice people ! 
I stayed in Manchester with last year. Well, she wants , 
me to go and stay the winter with them and study 
under a first-rate man, Franzen, who is to be in Man- 
chester two days a week during the winter. I have n't 
said a word about it what's the use? I know all 
Catherine's arguments by heart. Manchester is not 
Whindale, and papa wished us to live in Whindale ; 
I am not somebody else and need n't earn my bread ; 
and art is not religion; and ' 

'Wheels!' exclaimed Agnes. 'Catherine, I suppose, 
home from Whinborough/ 

Rose got up and peered through the rhododendron 
bushes at the top of the wall which shut them off from 
the road. 

'Catherine, and an unknown. Catherine driving at 
a foot's pace, and the unknown walking beside her. } 
Oh, I see, of course Mr. Elsmere. He will come in ; 
to tea, so I '11 go for a cup. It is his duty to call on us 

When Rose came back in the wake of her mother, 
Catherine and Robert Elsmere were coming up the 
drive. Something had given Catherine more colour 
than usual, and as Mrs. Leyburn shook hands with the 
young clergyman her mother's eyes turned approv- 
ingly to her eldest daughter. 'After all, she is as hand- 
[ 131 ] 


some as Rose/ she said to herself 'though it is 
quite a different style/ 

Rose, who was always tea-maker, dispensed her 
wares; Catherine took her favourite low seat beside 
her mother, clasping Mrs. Ley burn's thin mittened 
hand a while tenderly in her own ; Robert and Agnes 
set up a lively gossip on the subject of the Thornburghs' 
guests, in which Rose joined, while Catherine looked 
smiling on. She seemed apart from the rest, Robert 
thought ; not, clearly, by her own will, but by virtue of 
a difference of temperament which could not but make 
itself felt. Yet once as Rose passed her, Robert saw 
her stretch out her hand and touch her sister caress- 
ingly, with a bright upward look and smile as though 
she would say, ' Is all well? have you had a good time 
this afternoon, Roschen?' Clearly the strong contem- 
plative nature was not strong enough to dispense with 
any of the little wants and cravings of human affection. 
Compared to the main impression she was making on 
him, her suppliant attitude at her mother's feet and 
her caress of her sister were like flowers breaking 
through the stern March soil and changing the whole 
spirit of the fields. 

Presently he said something of Oxford, and men- 
tioned Merton. Instantly Mrs. Leyburn fell upon him. 
Had he ever seen Mr. S - who had been a Fellow 
there, and Rose's godfather? 

'I don't acknowledge him/ said Rose, pouting. 
' Other people's godfathers give them mugs and corals. 
Mine never gave me anything but a Concordance.' 

Robert laughed, and proved to their satisfaction 

that Mr. S had been extinct before his day. But 

[ 132 ] 


could they ask him any other questions? Mrs. Ley- 
burn became quite animated, and, diving into her 
memory, produced a number of fragmentary reminis- 
cences of her husband's Queen's friends, asking him 
for information about each and all of them. The 
young man disentangled all her questions, racked his 
brains to answer, and showed all through a quick 
friendliness, a charming deference as of youth to age, 
which confirmed the liking of the whole party for him. 
Then the mention of an associate of Richard Ley- 
burn's youth, who had been one of the Tractarian 
leaders, led him into talk of Oxford changes and the 
influences of the present. He drew for them the fa- 
mous High Church preacher of the moment, described 
the great spectacle of his Bampton Lectures, by which 
Oxford had been recently thrilled, and gave a dramatic 
account of a sermon on evolution preached by the 
hermit- veteran Pusey, as though by another Elias re- 
turning to the world to deliver a last warning message 
to men. Catherine listened absorbed, her deep eyes 
fixed upon him. And though all he said was pitched 
in a vivacious narrative key and addressed as much 
to the others as to her, inwardly it seemed to him that 
his one object all through was to touch and keep her 

Then, in answer to inquiries about himself, he fell 
to describing St. Anselm's with enthusiasm, its 
growth, its Provost, its effectiveness as a great educa- 
tional machine, the impression it had made on Oxford 
and the country. This led him naturally to talk of Mr. 
Grey, then, next to the Provost, the most prominent 
figure in the College ; and once embarked on this theme 
[ 133 ] 


he became more eloquent and interesting than ever. 
The circle of women listened to him as to a voice from 
the large world. He made them feel the beat of the 
great currents of English life and thought ; he seemed to 
bring the stir and rush of our- central English society 
into the deep quiet of their valley. Even the bright- 
haired Rose, idly swinging her pretty foot, with a head 
full of dreams and discontent, was beguiled, and for the 
moment seemed to lose her restless self in listening. 

He told an exciting story of a bad election riot in 
Oxford which had been quelled at considerable per- 
sonal risk by Mr. Grey, who had gained his influence 
in the town by a devotion of years to the policy of 
breaking down as far as possible the old venomous 
feud between city and university. 

When he paused, Mrs. Leyburn said, vaguely, ' Did 
you say he was a canon of somewhere?' 

'Oh no/ said Robert, smiling, 'he is not a clergy- 

'But you said he preached/ said Agnes. 

'Yes but lay sermons addresses. He is not one 
of us even, according to your standard and mine/ 

'A Nonconformist?' sighed Mrs. Leyburn. 'Oh, I 
know they have let in everybody now/ 

'Well, if you like/ said Robert. 'What I meant was 
that his opinions are not orthodox. He could not be 
a clergyman, but he is one of the noblest of men ! ' 

He spoke with affectionate warmth. Then suddenly 
Catherine's eyes met his, and he felt an involuntary 
start. A veil had fallen over them ; her sweet moved 
sympathy was gone ; she seemed to have shrunk into 

[ 134 ] 


She turned to Mrs. Leyburn. 'Mother, do you 
know, I have all sorts of messages from Aunt Ellen ' 
and in an under- voice she began to give Mrs. Leyburn 
the news of her afternoon expedition. 

Rose and Agnes soon plunged young Elsmere into 
another stream of talk. But he kept his feeling of per- 
plexity. His experience of other women seemed to give 
him nothing to go upon with regard to Miss Leyburn. 

Presently Catherine got up and drew her plain little 
black cape round her again. 

' My dear ! ' remonstrated Mrs. Leyburn. ' Where are 
you off to now?' 

'To the Backhouses, mother/ she said in a low 
voice ; ' I have not been there for two days. I must go 
this evening/ 

Mrs. Leyburn said no more. Catherine's 'musts' 
were never disputed. She moved towards Elsmere 
with outstretched hand. But he also sprang up. 

'I, too, must be going/ he said; 'I have paid you 
an unconscionable visit. If you are going past the 
vicarage, Miss Leyburn, may I escort you so far?' 

She stood quietly waiting while he made his fare- 
wells. Agnes, whose eye fell on her sister during the 
pause, was struck with a passing sense of something 
out of the common. She could hardly have defined 
her impression, but Catherine seemed more alive to the 
outer world, more like other people, less nun-like, than 

When they had left the garden together, as they had 
come into it, and Mrs. Leyburn, complaining of chilli- 
ness, had retreated to the drawing-room, Rose laid a 
quick hand on her sister's arm. 
[ 135 ] 


' You say Catherine likes him ? Owl ! what is a great 
deal more certain is that he likes her/ 

'Well/ said Agnes calmly, 'well, I await your 

'Poor fellow!' said Rose grimly, and removed her 

Meanwhile Elsmere and Catherine walked along the 
valley road towards the vicarage. He thought, un- 
easily, she was a little more reserved with him than she 
had been in those pleasant moments after he had over- 
taken her in the pony-carriage ; but still she was al- 
ways kind, always courteous. And what a white hand 
it was, hanging ungloved against her dress! what a 
beautiful dignity and freedom, as of mountain winds 
and mountain streams, in every movement ! 

'You are bound for High Ghyll?' he said to her as 
they neared the vicarage gate. ' Is it not a long way 
for you? You have been at a meeting already, your 
sister said, and teaching this morning ! ' 

He looked down on her with a charming diffidence 
as though aware that their acquaintance was very 
young, and yet with a warm eagerness of feeling pierc- 
ing through. As she paused under his eye the slightest 
flush rose to Catherine's cheek. Then she looked up 
with a smile. It was amusing to be taken care of by 
this tall stranger ! 

'It is most unfeminine, I am afraid/ she said, 'but 
I could n't be tired if I tried/ 

Elsmere grasped her hand. 

' You make me feel myself more than ever a shocking 
example/ he said, letting it go with a little sigh. The 
smart of his own renunciation was still keen in him. 
[ 136 ] 


She lingered a moment, could find nothing to say, 
threw him a look all shy sympathy and lovely pity, 
and was gone. 

In the evening Robert got an explanation of that 
sudden stiffening in his auditor of the afternoon, which 
had perplexed him. He and the vicar were sitting 
smoking in the study after dinner, and the f ingenious 
young man managed to shift the conversation on to 
the Ley burns, as he had managed to shift it once or 
twice before that day, flattering himself, of course, on 
each occasion that his manoeuvres were beyond detec- 
tion. The vicar, good soul, by virtue of his original 
discovery, detected them all, and with a sense of ap- 
propriation in the matter, not at all unmixed with a 
sense of triumph over Mrs. T., kept the ball rolling 

'Miss Leyburn seems to have very strong religious 
views/ said Robert, a propos of some remark of the 
vicar's as to the assistance she was to him in the school. 

'Ah, she is her father's, daughter/ said 'the vicar 
genially. He had his oldest coat on, his favourite pipe 
between his lips, and a bit of domestic carpentering on 
his knee at which he was fiddling away; and, being 
perfectly happy, was also perfectly amiable. ' Richard 
Leyburn was a fanatic as mild as you please, but 

'What line?' 

'Evangelical, with a dash of Quakerism. He lent 
me Madame Guyon's Life once to read. I did n't 
appreciate it. I told him that for all her religion she 
seemed to me to have a deal of the vixen in her. He 
could hardly get over it : it nearly broke our friendship. 
[ 137 ] 


But I suppose he was very like her, except that, in 
my opinion, his nature was sweeter. He was a fatalist 
saw leadings of Providence in every little thing. 
And such a dreamer ! When he came to live up here 
just before his death, and all .his active life was taken 
off him, I believe half his time he was seeing visions. 
He used to wander over the fells and meet you with a 
start, as though you belonged to another world than 
the one he was walking in.' 

'And his eldest daughter was much with him?' 

'The apple of his eye. She understood him. He 
could talk his soul out to her. The others, of course, 
were children ; and his wife well, his wife was just 
what you see her now, poor thing. He must have mar- 
ried her when she was very young and very pretty. 
She was a squire's daughter somewhere near the school 
of which he was master a good family, I believe - 
she'll tell you so, in a ladylike way. He was always 
fidgety about her health. He loved her, I suppose, 
or had loved her. But it was Catherine who had his 
mind ; Catherine who was his friend. She adored him. 
I believe there was always a sort of pity in her heart 
for him too. But at any rate he made her and trained 
her. He poured all his ideas and convictions into her.' 

' Which were strong? ' 

' Uncommonly. For all his gentle, ethereal look, you 
could neither bend nor break him. I don't believe any- 
body but Richard Leyburn could have gone through 
Oxford at the height of the Oxford Movement, and, 
so to speak, have known nothing about it, while living 
all the time for religion. He had a great deal in com- 
mon with the Quakers, as I said; a great deal in 
[ 138 ] 


common with the Wesleyans ; but he was very loyal to 
the Church all the same. He regarded it as the golden 
mean. George Herbert was his favourite poet. He 
used to carry his poems about with him on the moun- 
tains, and an expurgated "Christian Year" -the 
only thing he ever took from the High Churchmen 
which he had made for himself, and which he and 
Catherine knew by heart. In some ways he was not 
a bigot at all. He would have had the Church make 
peace with the Dissenters; he was all for upsetting 
tests so far as Nonconformity was concerned. But he 
drew the most rigid line between belief and unbelief. 
He would not have dined at the same table with a 
Unitarian if he could have helped it. I remember 
a furious article of his in the " Record " against ad- 
mitting Unitarians to the Universities or allowing them 
to sit in Parliament. England is a Christian State, he 
said ; they are not Christians ; they have no right in 
her except on sufferance. Well, I suppose he was about 
right/ said the vicar, with a sigh. 'We are all so half- 
hearted nowadays/ 

'Not he/ cried Robert hotly. 'Who are we that 
because a man differs from us in opinion we are to shut 
him out from the education of political and civil duty? 
But never mind, Cousin William. Go on/ 

'There's no more that I remember, except that of 
course Catherine took all these ideas from him. He 
would n't let his children know any unbeliever, how- 
ever apparently worthy and good. He impressed it 
upon them as their special sacred duty, in a time of 
wicked enmity to religion, to cherish the faith and the 
whole faith. He wished his wife and daughters to live 
[ 139 j 


on here after his death that they might be less in dan- 
ger spiritually than in the big world, and that they 
might have more opportunity of living the old-fash- 
ioned Christian life. There was also some mystical 
idea, I think, of making up through his children for the 
godless lives of their forefathers. He used to reproach 
himself for having in his prosperous days neglected his 
family, some of whom he might have helped to raise/ 

'Well, but/ said Robert, 'all very well for Miss Ley- 
burn, but I don't see the father in the two younger 

'Ah, there is Catherine's difficulty,' said the vicar, 
shrugging his shoulders. ' Poor thing ! How well I re- 
member her after her father's death ! She came down 
to see me in the dining-room about some arrangement 
for the funeral. She was only sixteen, so pale and thin 
with nursing. I said something about the comfort 
she had been to her father. She took my hand and 
burst into tears. "He was so good!" she said; "I 
loved him so ! Oh, Mr. Thornburgh, help me to look 
after the others!" And that's been her one thought 
since then that, next to following the narrow road/ 

The vicar had begun to speak with emotion, as gen- 
erally happened to him whenever he was beguiled into 
much speech about Catherine Leyburn. There must 
have been something great somewhere in the insigni- 
ficant elderly man. A meaner soul might so easily 
have been jealous of this girl with her inconveniently 
high standards, and her influence, surpassing his own, 
in his own domain. 

'I should like to know the secret of the little musi- 
cian's independence/ said Robert, musing. 'There 
[ 140 ] 


might be no tie of blood at all between her and the 
elder, so far as I can see/ 

'Oh, I don't know that! There's more than you 
think, or Catherine would n't have kept her hold over 
her so far as she has. Generally she gets her way, 
except about the music. There Rose sticks to it.' 

'And why should n't she?' 

'Ah, well, you see, my dear fellow, I am old enough, 
and you're not, to remember what people in the old 
days used to think about art. Of course nowadays we 
all say very fine things about it ; but Richard Leyburn 
would no more have admitted that a girl who had n't 
got her own bread or her family's to earn by it was jus- 
tified in spending her time in fiddling than he would 
have approved of her spending it in dancing. I have 
heard him take a text out of the 'Imitation' and lec- 
ture Rose when she was quite a baby for pestering any 
stray person she could get hold of to give her music- 
lessons. "Woe to them" - yes, that was it "that 
inquire many curious things of men, and care little 
about the way of serving me." However, he was n't 
consistent. Nobody is. It was actually he that brought 
Rose her first violin from London in a green baize bag. 
Mrs. Leyburn took me in one night to see her asleep 
with it on her pillow, and all her pretty curls lying over 
the strings. I dare say, poor man, it was one of the 
acts towards his children that tormented his mind in 
his last hour.' 

' She has certainly had her way about practising it : 
she plays superbly.' 

'Oh yes, she has had her way. She is a queer mix- 
ture, is Rose. I see a touch of the old Leyburn reck- 


lessness in her; and then there is the beauty and 
refinement of her mother's side of the family. Lately 
she has got quite out of hand. She went to stay with 
some relations they have in Manchester, got drawn 
into the musical set there, took to these funny gowns, 
and now she and Catherine are always half at war. 
Poor Catherine said to me the other day, with tears in 
her eyes, that she knew Rose thought her as hard as 
iron. "But what can I do?" she said. "I promised 
papa." She makes herself miserable, and it's no use. 
I wish the little wild thing would get herself well mar- 
ried. She's not meant for this humdrum place, and 
she may kick over the traces.' 

'She's pretty enough for anything and anybody,' 
said Robert. 

The vicar looked at him sharply, but the young 
man's critical and meditative look reassured him. 

The next day, just before early dinner, Rose and 
Agnes, who had been for a walk, were startled, as they 
were turning into their own gate, by the frantic waving 
of a white handkerchief from the vicarage garden. It 
was Mrs.-Thornburgh's accepted way of calling the 
attention of the Burwood inmates, and the girls walked 
on. They found the good lady waiting for them in the 
drive in a characteristic glow and flutter. 

'My dears, I have been looking out for you all the 
morning ! I should have come over but for the stores 
coming, and a tiresome man from Randall's. I 've had 
to bargain with him for a whole hour about taking 
back those sweets. I was swindled, of course, but we 
should have died if we'd had to eat them up. Well, 
now, my dears ' 

[ 142 ] 


The vicar's wife paused. Her square short figure 
was between the two girls ; she had an arm of each, and 
she looked significantly from one to another, her grey 
curls flapping across her face as she did so. 

'Go on, Mrs. Thornburgh,' cried Rose. 'You make 
us quite nervous/ 

'How do you like Mr. Elsmere?' she inquired 

'Very much/ said both in chorus. 

Mrs. Thornburgh surveyed Rose's smiling frankness 
with a little sigh. Things were going grandly, but she 
could imagine a disposition of affairs which would have 
given her personally more pleasure. 

'How would you like him for a brother- 
in-law?' she inquired, beginning in a whisper, with 
slow emphasis, patting Rose's arm, and bringing out 
the last words with a rush. 

Agnes caught the twinkle in Rose's eye, but she 
answered for them both demurely. 

'We have no objection to entertain the idea. But 
you must explain.' 

'Explain!' cried Mrs. Thornburgh. 'I should think 
it explains itself. At least if you'd been in this house 
the last twenty-four hours you'd think so. Since the 
moment when he first met her, it's been "Miss Ley- 
burn," "Miss Leyburn," all the time. One might have 
seen it with half an eye from the beginning.' 

Mrs. Thornburgh had not seen it with two eyes, as 
we know, till it was pointed out to her; but her im- 
agination worked with equal liveliness backwards or 

'He went to see you yesterday, did n't he yes, 
[ 143 ] 


I know he did and he overtook her in the pony- 
carriage the vicar saw them from across the valley 
and he brought her back from your house, and then 
he kept William up till nearly twelve talking of her. 
And now he wants a picnic v Oh, it's as plain as a 
pikestaff. And, my dears, nothing to be said against 
him. Fifteen hundred a year if he's a penny. A nice 
living, only his mother to look after, and as good a 
young fellow as ever stepped.' 

Mrs. Thornburgh stopped, choked almost by her 
own eloquence. The girls, who had by this time estab- 
lished her between them on a garden-seat, looked at 
her with smiling composure. They were accustomed 
to letting her have her budget out. 

'And now, of course/ she resumed, taking breath, 
and chilled a little by their silence, 'now, of course, I 
want to know about Catherine?' She regarded them 
with anxious interrogation. Rose, still smiling, slowly 
shook her head. 

'What!' cried Mrs. Thornburgh; then, with charm- 
ing inconsistency, ' oh, you can't know any thing in two 

'That's just it/ said Agnes, intervening; 'we can't 
know anything in two days. No one ever will know 
anything about Catherine, if she takes to anybody, 
till the last minute/ 

Mrs. Thornburgh 's face fell. ' It 's very difficult when 
people will be so reserved/ she said dolefully. 

The girls acquiesced, but intimated that they saw 
no way out of it. 

'At any rate we can bring them together/ she broke 
out, brightening again. 'We can have picnics, you 
[ 144 ] 


know, and teas, and all that and watch. Now 

And the vicar's wife sketched out a programme of 
festivities for the next fortnight she had been revolving 
in her inventive head, which took the sisters' breath 
away. Rose bit her lip to keep in her laughter. Agnes 
with vast self-possession took Mrs. Thornburgh. in 
hand. She pointed out firmly that nothing would be so 
likely to make Catherine impracticable as fuss. 'In 
vain is the net spread/ etc. She preached from the 
text with a worldly wisdom which quickly crushed 
Mrs. Thornburgh. 

'Well, what am I to do, my dears?' she said at last 
helplessly. ' Look at the weather ! We must have some 
picnics, if it's only to amuse Robert/ 

Mrs. Thornburgh spent her life between a condition 
of effervescence and a condition of feeling the world 
too much for her. Rose and Agnes, having now 
reduced her to the latter state, proceeded cautiously 
to give her her head again. They promised her two or 
three expeditions and one picnic at least; they said 
they would do their best; they promised they would 
report what they saw and be very discreet, both feel- 
ing the comedy of Mrs. Thornburgh as the advocate 
of discretion ; and then they departed to their early 
dinner, leaving the vicar's wife decidedly less self- 
confident than they found her. 

'The first matrimonial excitement of the family/ 
cried Agnes as they walked home. ' So far no one can 
say the Miss Leyburns have been besieged ! ' 

'It will be all moonshine/ Rose replied decisively. 
'Mr. Elsmere may lose his heart ; we may aid and abet 
[ 145 ] 


him ; Catherine will live in the clouds for a few weeks, 
and come down from them at the end with the air of 
an angel, to give him his coup de grace. As I said 
before poor fellow ! ' 

Agnes made no answer. She was never so positive as 
Rose, and on the whole did not find herself the worse 
for it in life. Besides, she understood that there was a 
soreness at the bottom of Rose's heart that was always 
showing itself in unexpected connexions. 

There was no necessity, indeed, for elaborate 
schemes for assisting Providence. Mrs. Thornburgh 
had her picnics and her expeditions, but without them 
Robert Elsmere would have been still man enough to 
see Catherine Leyburn every day. He loitered about 
the roads along which she must needs pass to do her 
many offices of charity ; he offered the vicar to take a 
class in the school, and was naively exultant that the 
vicar curiously happened to fix an hour when he must 
needs see Miss Leyburn going or coming on the same 
errand ; he dropped into Burwood on any conceivable 
pretext, till Rose and Agnes lost all inconvenient 
respect for his cloth and Mrs. Leyburn sent him on 
errands ; and he even insisted that Catherine and the 
vicar should make use of him and his pastoral services 
in one or two of the cases of sickness or poverty under 
their care. Catherine, with a little more reserve than 
usual, took him one day to the Tysons', and intro- 
duced him to the poor crippled son who was likely to 
live on paralysed for some time, under the weight, 
moreover, of a black cloud of depression which seldom 
lifted. Mrs. Tyson kept her talking in the room, and 
she never forgot the scene. It showed her a new aspect 
[ 146 ] 


of a man whose intellectual life was becoming plain to 
her, while his moral life was still something of a mys- 
tery. The look in Elsmere's face as he sat bending 
over the maimed young farmer, the strength and ten- 
derness of the man, the diffidence of the few religious 
things he said, and yet the reality and force of them, 
struck her powerfully. He had forgotten her, forgotten 
everything save the bitter human need, and the com- 
fort it was his privilege to offer. Catherine stood 
answering Mrs. Tyson at random, the tears rising in 
her eyes. She slipped out while he was still talking, 
and went home strangely moved. 

As to the festivities, she did her best to join in them. 
The sensitive soul often reproached itself afterwards 
for having juggled in the matter. Was it not her duty 
to manage a little society and gaiety for her sisters 
sometimes? Her mother could not undertake it, and 
was always plaintively protesting that Catherine 
would not be young. So for a short week or two 
Catherine did her best to be young, and climbed the 
mountain grass, or forded the mountain streams with 
the energy and the grace of perfect health, trembling 
afterwards at night as she knelt by her window to 
think how much sheer pleasure the day had contained. 
Her life had always had the tension of a bent bow. 
It seemed to her once or twice during this fortnight as 
though something were suddenly relaxed in her, and 
she felt a swift Bunyan-like terror of backsliding, of 
falling away. But she never confessed herself fully; 
she was even blind to what her perspicacity would 
have seen so readily in another's case the little arts 
and manoeuvres of those about her. It did not strike 
[ 147 ] 


her that Mrs. Thornburgh was more flighty and more 
ebullient than ever ; that the vicar's wife kissed her at 
odd times, and with a quite unwonted effusion ; or that 
Agnes and Rose, when they were in the wild heart of 
the mountains, or wandering .far and wide in search 
of sticks for a picnic fire, showed a perfect genius for 
avoiding Mr. Elsmere, whom both of them liked, and 
that in consequence his society almost always fell to 
her. Nor did she ever analyse what would have been 
the attraction of those walks to her without that tall 
figure at her side, that bounding step, that picturesque 
impetuous talk. There are moments when Nature 
throws a kind of heavenly mist and dazzlement round 
the soul it would fain make happy. The soul gropes 
blindly on ; if it saw its way it might be timid and 
draw back, but kind powers lead it genially onward 
through a golden darkness. 

Meanwhile if she did not know herself, she and Els- 
mere learnt with wonderful quickness and thorough- 
ness to know each other. The two households so near 
together, and so isolated from the world besides, were 
necessarily in constant communication. And Elsmere 
made a most stirring element in their common life. 
Never had he been more keen, more strenuous. It gave 
Catherine new lights on modern character altogether 
to see how he was preparing himself for this Surrey 
living reading up the history, geology, and botany 
of the Weald and its neighbourhood, plunging into 
reports of agricultural commissions, or spending his 
quick brain on village sanitation, with the oddest 
results sometimes, so far as his conversation was con- 
cerned. And then in the middle of his disquisitions, 
[ 148 ] 


which would keep her breathless with a sense of being 
whirled through space at the tail of an electric kite, 
the kite would come down with a run, and the preacher 
and reformer would come hat in hand to the girl be- 
side him, asking her humbly to advise him, to pour 
out on him some of that practical experience of hers 
among the poor and suffering, for the sake of which he 
would in an instant scornfully fling out of sight all his 
own magnificent plannings. Never had she told so 
much of her own life to any one, "her consciousness 
of it sometimes filled her with a sort of terror, lest she 
might have been trading, as it were, for her own ad- 
vantage on the sacred things of God. But he would 
have it. His sympathy, his sweetness, his quick spirit- 
ual feeling drew the stories out of her. And then how 
his bright frank eyes would soften ! With what a rever- 
ence would he touch her hand when she said good-bye ! 
And on her side she felt that she knew almost as 
much about Murewell as he did. She could imagine 
the wild beauty of the Surrey heathland, she could 
see the white square rectory with its sloping walled 
garden, the juniper common just outside the straggling 
village; she could even picture the strange squire, 
solitary in the great Tudor Hall, the author of terrible 
books against the religion of Christ of which she shrank 
from hearing, and share the anxieties of the young 
rector as to his future relations towards a personal- 
ity so marked, and so important to every soul in 
the little community he was called to rule. Here all 
was plain sailing ; she understood him perfectly, and 
her gentle comments, or her occasional sarcasms, were 
friendliness itself. 

[ 149 ] 


But it was when he turned to larger things to 
books, movements, leaders of the day that she was 
often puzzled, sometimes distressed. Why would he 
seem to exalt and glorify rebellion against the estab- 
lished order in the person of Mr. Grey? Or why, ardent 
as his own faith was, would he talk as though opinion 
was a purely personal matter, hardly in itself to be 
made the subject of moral judgement at all, and as 
though right belief were a blessed privilege and boon 
rather than a law and an obligation? When his com- 
ments on men and things took this tinge, she would 
turn silent, feeling a kind of painful opposition be- 
tween his venturesome speech and his clergyman's 

And yet, as we all know, these ways of speech were 
not his own. He was merely talking the natural 
Christian language of this generation ; whereas she, 
the child of a mystic solitary, intense, and deeply 
reflective from her earliest youth was still thinking 
and speaking in the language of her father's genera- 

But although, as often as his unwariness brought 
him near to these points of jarring, he would hurry 
away from them, conscious that here was the one pro- 
found difference between them, it was clear to him 
that insensibly she had moved farther than she knew 
from her father's standpoint. Even among these soli- 
tudes, far from men and literature, she had uncon- 
sciously felt the breath of her time in some degree. 
As he penetrated deeper into the nature he found it 
honeycombed, as it were, here and there, with beauti- 
ful unexpected softnesses and diffidences. Once, after 
[ 150 ] 


a long walk, as they were lingering homewards under 
a cloudy evening sky, he came upon the great problem 
of her life Rose and Rose's art. He drew her dif- 
ficulty from her with the most delicate skill. She had 
laid it bare, and was blushing to think how she had 
asked his counsel almost before she knew where their 
talk was leading. How was it lawful for the Christian 
to spend the few short years of the earthly combat 
in any pursuit, however noble and exquisite, which 
merely aimed at the gratification of the senses, and 
implied in the pursuer the emphasising rather than 
the surrender of self ? 

He argued it very much as Kingsley would have 
argued it, tried to lift her to a more intelligent view of 
a multifarious world, dwelling on the function of pure 
beauty in life, and on the influence of beauty on char- 
acter, pointing out the value to the race of all individ- 
ual development, and pressing home on her the natural 
religious question : How are the artistic aptitudes to 
be explained unless the Great Designer meant them 
to have a use and function in His world? She replied 
doubtfully that she had always supposed they were 
lawful for recreation, and like any other trade for 
bread-winning, but 

Then he told her much that he knew about the 
humanising effect of music on the poor. He described 
to her the efforts of a London society, of which he was 
a subscribing member, to popularise the best music 
among the lowest class ; he dwelt almost with passion 
on the difference between the joy to be got out of such 
things and the common brutalising joys of the work- 
man. And you could not have art without artists. In 


this again he was only talking the commonplaces of 
his day. But to her they were not commonplaces 
at all. She looked at him from time to time, her great 
eyes lightening and deepening as it seemed with every 
fresh thrust of his. 

'I am grateful to you/ she said at last with an in- 
voluntary outburst, 'I am very grateful to you!' 

And she gave a long sigh as if some burden she had 
long borne in patient silence had been loosened a little, 
if only by the fact of speech about it. She was not 
convinced exactly. She was too strong a nature to 
relinquish a principle without a period of meditative 
struggle in which conscience should have all its dues. 
But her tone made his heart leap. He felt in it a mo- 
mentary self -surrender that, coming from a creature of 
so rare a dignity, filled him with an exquisite sense 
of power, and yet at the same time with a strange 
humility beyond words. 

A day or two later he was the spectator of a curious 
little scene. An aunt of the Leyburns living in Whin- 
borough came to see them. She was their father's 
youngest sister, and the wife of a man who had made 
some money as a builder in Whinborough. When 
Robert came in he found her sitting on the sofa having 
tea, a large homely-looking woman with grey hair, a 
high brow, and prominent white teeth. She had un- 
fastened her bonnet-strings, and a clean white hand- 
kerchief lay spread out on her lap. When Elsmere 
was introduced to her, she got up, and said with some 
effusiveness, and a distinct Westmoreland accent 

'Very pleased indeed to make your acquaintance, 
sir/ while she enclosed his fingers in a capacious hand. 
[ 152 ] 


Mrs. Ley burn, looking fidgety and uncomfortable, 
was sitting near her, and Catherine, the only member 
of the party who showed no sign of embarrassment 
when Robert entered, was superintending her aunt's 
tea and talking busily the while. 

Robert sat down at a little distance beside Agnes 
and Rose, who were chattering together a little arti- 
ficially and of set purpose as it seemed to him. But 
the aunt was not to be ignored. She talked too loud 
not to be overheard, and Agnes inwardly noted that 
as soon as Robert Elsmere appeared she talked louder 
than before. He gathered presently that she was an 
ardent Wesleyan, and that she was engaged in de- 
scribing to Catherine and Mrs. Leyburn the evangel- 
istic exploits of her eldest son, who had recently ob- 
tained his first circuit as a Wesleyan minister. He was 
shrewd enough, too, to guess, after a minute or two, 
that his presence and probably his obnoxious clerical 
dress gave additional zest to the recital. 

' Oh, his success at Colesbridge has been somethin' 
marvellous/ he heard her say, with uplifted hands and 
eyes, 'some-thin' marvellous. The Lord has blessed 
him indeed ! It does n't matter what it is, whether it 's ; 
meetings, or sermons, or parlour work, or just faithful 
dealings with souls one by one. Satan has no cliverer 
foe than Edward. He never shuts his eyes ; as Edward 
says himself, it's like trackin' for game is huntin' for 
souls. Why, the other day he was walkin' out from 
Coventry to a service. It was the Sabbath, and he saw 
a man in a bit of grass by the roadside, mendin' his 
cart. And he stopped did Edward, and gave him the 
Word strong. The man seemed puzzled like, and said 
I 153 ] 


he meant no harm. " No harm ! " says Edward, "when 
you're just doin' the Devil's work every nail you put 
in, and hammerin' away, mon, at your own damna- 
tion." But here's his letter/ And while Rose turned 
away to a far window to hide an almost hysterical in- 
clination to laugh, Mrs. Fleming opened her bag, took 
out a treasured paper, and read with the emphasis and 
the unction peculiar to a certain type of revivalism - 
" Poor sinner ! He was much put about. I left him, 
praying the Lord my shaft might rankle in him ; aye, 
might fester and burn in him till he found no peace 
but in Jesus. He seemed very dark and destitute no 
respect for the Word or its ministers. A bit farther 
I met a boy carrying a load of turnips. To him, too, I 
was faithful, and he went on, taking, without knowing 
it, a precious leaflet with him in his bag. Glorious 
work! If Wesleyans will but go on claiming even the 
highways for God, sin will skulk yet.'" 

A dead silence. Mrs. Fleming folded up the letter 
and put it back into her bag. 

'There's your true minister,' she said, with a large 
judicial utterance as she closed the snap. 'Wherever 
he goes Edward must have souls ! ' 

And she threw a swift searching look at the young 
clergyman in the window. 

' He must have very hard work with so much walking 
and preaching,' said Catherine gently. 

Somehow, as soon as she spoke, Elsmere saw the 
whole odd little scene with other eyes. 

'His work is just wearin' him out,' said the mother 
fervently; 'but a minister doesn't think of that. 
Wherever he goes there are sinners saved. He stayed 
[ 154 ] 


last week at a house near Nuneaton. At family prayer 
alone there were five saved. And at the prayer- 
meetin's on the Sabbath such outpourings of the 
Spirit ! Edward comes home, his wife tells me, just 
ready to drop. Are you acquainted, sir/ she added, 
turning suddenly to Elsmere, and speaking in a cer- 
tain tone of provocation, 'with the labours of our 
Wesleyan ministers?' 

'No/ said Robert, with his pleasant smile, 'not per- 
sonally. But I have the greatest respect for them as 
a body of devoted men/ 

The look of battle faded from the woman's face. It 
was not an unpleasant face. He even saw strange 
reminiscences of Catherine in it at times. 

'You're aboot right there, sir. Not that they dare 
take any credit to themselves it's grace, sir, all 

'Aunt Ellen/ said Catherine, while a sudden light 
broke over her face ; ' I just want you to take Edward 
a little story from me. Ministers are good things, but 
God can do without them/ 

And she laid her hand on her aunt's knee with a 
smile in which there was the slightest touch of affec- 
tionate satire. 

'I was up among the fells the other day/ she went 
on ; 'I met an elderly man cutting wood in a planta- 
tion, and I stopped and asked him how he was. "Ah, 
Miss," he said, "verra weel, verra weel. And yet it 
was nobbut Friday morning lasst, I cam oop here, 
awfu' bad in my sperrits like. For my wife she's sick, 
an' a' dwinnelt away, and I'm gettin' auld, and can't 
wark as I 'd used to, and it did luke to me as thoo there 
[ 155 ] 


was naethin' afore us nobbut t' Union. And t' mist 
war low on t' fells, and I sat conder t' wall, wettish 
and broodin' like. And theer all ov a soodent the 
Lord found me! Yes, puir Reuben Judge, as dawn't 
matter to naebody, the Lord found un. It war leyke 
as thoo His feeace cam a-glisterin' an' a-shinin' 
through t' mist. An' iver sence then, Miss, aa've jest 
felt as thoo aa could a' cut an' stackt all t' wood on t' 
fell in naw time at a' ! " And he waved his hand round 
the mountain-side which was covered with plantation. 
And all the way along the path for ever so long I could 
hear him singing, chopping away, and quavering out, 
"Rock of Ages."' 

She paused, her delicate face, with just a little 
quiver in the lip, turned to her aunt, her eyes glowing 
as though a hidden fire had leapt suddenly outward. 
And yet the gesture, the attitude, was simplicity and 
unconsciousness itself. Robert had never heard her 
say anything so intimate before. Nor had he ever seen 
her so inspired, so beautiful. She had transmuted the 
conversation at a touch. It had been barbarous prose ; 
she had turned it into purest poetry. Only the noblest 
souls have such an alchemy as this at command, 
thought the watcher on the other side of the room 
with a passionate reverence. 

'I wasn't thinkin' of narrowin' the Lord down to 
ministers,' said Mrs. Fleming, with a certain loftiness. 
'We all know He can do without us puir worms.' 

Then, seeing that no one replied, the good woman 

got up to go. Much of her apparel had slipped away 

from her in the fervours of revivalist anecdote, and 

while she hunted for gloves and reticule officiously 

[ 156 ] 


helped by the younger girls Robert crossed over to 

' You lifted us on to your own high places ! ' he said, 
bending down to her ; ' I shall carry your story with 
me through the fells/ 

She looked up, and as she met his warm moved look 
a little glow and tremor crept into the face, destroying 
its exalted expression. He broke the spell; she sank 
from the poet into the embarrassed woman. 

' You must see my old man/ she said, with an effort ; 
'he is worth a library of sermons. I must introduce 
him to you/ 

He could think of nothing else to say just then, but 
could only stand impatiently wishing for Mrs. Flem- 
ing's disappearance, that he might somehow appro- 
priate her eldest niece. But alas! when she went, 
Catherine went out with her, and reappeared no more, 
though he waited some time. 

He walked home in a whirl of feeling ; on the way he 
stopped, and leaning over a gate which led into one of 
the river-fields gave himself up to the mounting tumult 
within. Gradually, from the half -articulate chaos of 
hope and memory, there emerged the deliberate voice 
of his inmost manhood. 

'In her and her only is my heart's desire! She 
and she only if she will, and God will, shall be my 

He lifted his head and looked out on the dewy field, 
the evening beauty of the hills, with a sense of im- 
measurable change - 


Were in his eyes, and in his ears 
The murmur of a thousand years.' 
[ 157 ] 


He felt himself knit to his kind, to his race, as he 
had never felt before. It was as though, after a long 
apprenticeship, he had sprung suddenly into maturity 
entered at last into the full human heritage. But 
the very intensity and solemnity of his own feeling 
gave him a rare clear-sightedness. He realised that 
he had no certainty of success, scarcely even an en- 
tirely reasonable hope. But what of that? Were they 
not together, alone, practically, in these blessed soli- 
tudes? Would they not meet to-morrow, and next 
day, and the day after? Were not time and opportun- 
ity all his own? How kind her looks are even now! 
Courage! And through that maidenly kindness his 
own passion shall send the last, transmuting glow. 


THE following morning about noon, Rose, who had 
been coaxed and persuaded by Catherine, much 
against her will, into taking a singing-class at the 
school, closed the school-door behind her with a sigh 
of relief, and tripped up the road to Burwood. 

'How abominably they sang this morning!' she 
said to herself with curving lip. 'Talk of the natural 
North-country gift for music ! What ridiculous fictions 
people set up! Dear me, what clouds! Perhaps we 
shan't get our walk to Shanmoor after all, and if we 
don't, and if if her cheek flushed with a sudden 
excitement 'if Mr. Elsmere doesn't propose, Mrs. 
Thornburgh will be unmanageable. It is all Agnes 
and I can do to keep her in bounds as it is, and if 
something doesn't come off to-day, she'll be for re- 
versing the usual proceeding, and asking Catherine 
her intentions, which would ruin everything.' 

Then raising her head she swept her eyes round the 
sky. The wind was freshening, the clouds were coming 
up fast from the westward ; over the summit of High 
Fell and the crags on either side, a grey straight-edged 
curtain was already lowering. 

' It will hold up yet a while,' she thought, 'and if it 
rains later we can get a carriage at Shanmoor and come 
back by the road.' 

And she walked on homewards meditating, her thin 
fingers clasped before her, the wind blowing her 
[ 159 ] 


skirts, the blue ribbons on her hat, the little gold curls 
on her temples, in a pretty many-coloured turmoil 
about her. When she got to Burwood she shut herself 
into the room which was peculiarly hers, the room 
which had been a stable. Now it was full of artistic 
odds and ends her fiddle,' of course, and piles of 
music, her violin-stand, a few deal tables and cane 
chairs beautified by a number of chiffons, bits of Lib- 
erty stuffs with the edges still ragged, or cheap morsels 
of Syrian embroidery. On the tables stood photo- 
graphs of musicians and friends the spoils of her 
visits to Manchester, and of two visits to London which 
gleamed like golden points in the girl's memory. The 
plastered walls were covered with an odd medley. 
Here was a round mirror, of which Rose was enorm- 
ously proud. She had extracted it from a farmhouse 
of the neighbourhood, and paid for it with her own 
money. There a group of unfinished headlong sketches 
of the most fiercely impressionist description the 
work and the gift of a knot of Manchester artists, who 
had feted and flattered the beautiful little Westmore- 
land girl, when she was staying among them, to her 
heart's content. Manchester, almost alone among our 
great towns of the present day, has not only a musical, 
but a pictorial life of its own; its young artists dub 
themselves 'a school,' study in Paris, and when they 
come home scout the Academy and its methods, and 
pine to set up a rival art-centre, skilled in. all the 
methods of the Salon, in the murky North. Rose's 
uncle, originally a clerk in a warehouse, and a rough 
diamond enough, had more or less moved with the 
times, like his brother Richard; at any rate he had 
[ 160 ] 


grown rich, had married a decent wife, and was glad 
enough to befriend his dead brother's children, who 
wanted nothing of him, and did their uncle a credit of 
which he was sensible, by their good manners and good 
looks. Music was the only point at which he touched 
the culture of the times, like so many business men ; 
but it pleased him also to pose as a patron of local art ; 
so that when Rose went to stay with her childless 
uncle and aunt, she found long-haired artists and fiery 
musicians about the place, who had excited and en- 
couraged her musical gift, who sketched her while she 
played, and talked to the pretty, clever, unformed 
creature of London and Paris and Italy, and set her 
pining for that golden vie de Boheme which she alone 
apparently of all artists was destined never to know. 
For she was an artist she would be an artist 
let Catherine say what she would ! She came back from 
Manchester restless for she knew not what, thirsty for 
the joys and emotions of art, determined to be free, 
reckless, passionate ; with Wagner and Brahms in her 
young blood ; and found Burwood waiting for her 
Burwood, the lonely house in the lonely valley, of 
which Catherine was the presiding genius. Catherine ! 
For Rose, what a multitude of associations clustered 
round the name ! To her it meant everything at this 
moment against which her soul rebelled the most 
scrupulous order, the most rigid self-repression, the 
most determined sacrificing of 'this warm kind world/ 
with all its indefensible delights, to a cold other- world, 
with its torturing inadmissible claims. Even in the 
midst of her stolen joys at Manchester or London, this 
mere name, the mere mental image of Catherine mov- 


ing through life, wrapped in a religious peace and cer- 
tainty as austere as they were beautiful, and asking 
of all about her the same absolute surrender to an 
awful Master she gave so easily herself, was enough to 
chill the wayward Rose, and fill her with a kind of 
restless despair. And at home, as the vicar said, the 
two sisters were always on the verge of conflict. Rose 
had enough of her father in her to suffer in resisting, 
but resist she must by the law of her nature. 

Now, as she threw off her walking-things, she fell 
first upon her violin, and rushed through a Brahms 's 
'Liebeslied/ her eyes dancing, her whole light form 
thrilling with the joy of it; and then with a sudden 
revulsion she stopped playing, and threw herself down 
listlessly by the open window. Close by against the 
wall was a little looking-glass, by which she often 
arranged her ruffled locks; she glanced at it now, it 
showed her a brilliant face enough, but drooping lips, 
and eyes darkened with the extravagant melancholy 
of eighteen. 

' It is come to a pretty pass/ she said to herself, 'that 
I should be able to think of nothing but schemes for 
getting Catherine married and out of my way ! Con- 
sidering what she is and what I am, and how she 
has slaved for us all her life, I seem to have descended 
pretty low. Heigh ho !' 

And with a portentous sigh she dropped her chin 
on her hand. She was half-acting, acting to herself. 
Life was not really quite unbearable, and she knew it. 
But it relieved her to overdo it. 

'I wonder how much chance there is/ she mused 
presently. 'Mr. Elsmere will soon be ridiculous. Why, 
[ 162 ] 


7 saw him gather up those violets she threw away 
yesterday on Moor Crag. And as for her, I don't be- 
lieve she has realised the situation a bit. At least, if 
she has, she is as unlike other mortals in this as in 
everything else. But when she does ' 

She frowned and meditated, but got no light on the 
problem. Chattie jumped up on the window-sill, with 
her usual stealthy aplomb, and rubbed herself against 
the girl's face. 

' Oh, Chattie ! ' cried Rose, throwing her arms round 
the cat, 'if Catherine '11 only marry Mr. Elsmere, my 
dear, and be happy ever afterwards, and set me free 
to live my own life a bit, I'll be so good, you won't 
know me, Chattie. And you shall have a new collar, 
my beauty, and cream till you die of it ! ' 

And springing up she dragged in the cat, and snatch- 
ing a scarlet anemone from a bunch on the table, stood 
opposite Chattie, who stood slowly waving her magni- 
ficent tail from side to side, and glaring as though it 
were not at all to her taste to be hustled and bustled 
in this way. 

'Now, Chattie, listen! Will she?' 

A leaf of the flower dropped on Chattie's nose. 

'Won't she? Will she? Won't she? Will-- Tire- 
some flower, why did Nature give it such a beggarly 
few petals? If I'd had a daisy it would have all come 
right. Come, Chattie, waltz ; and let 's forget this 
wicked world!' 

And, snatching up her violin, the girl broke into a 

Strauss waltz, dancing to it the while, her cotton skirts 

flying, her pretty feet twinkling, till her eyes glowed, 

and her cheeks blazed with a double intoxication 

[ 163 ] 


the intoxication of movement, and the intoxication of 
sound the cat meanwhile following her with little 
mincing perplexed steps, as though not knowing what 
to make of her. 

' Rose, you madcap ! ' cried Agnes, opening the door. 

'Not at all, my dear/ said Rose calmly, stopping to 
take breath. 'Excellent practice and uncommonly 
difficult. Try if you can do it, and see ! ' 

The weather held up in a grey grudging sort of way, 
and Mrs. Thornburgh especially was all for braving 
the clouds and going on with the expedition. It was 
galling to her that she herself would have to be driven 
to Shanmoor behind the fat vicarage pony, while the 
others would be climbing the fells, and all sorts of 
exciting things might be happening. Still it was in- 
finitely better to be half in it than not in it at all, 
and she started by the side of the vicarage 'man' in 
a most delicious flutter. The skies might fall any day 
now. Elsmere had not confided in her, though she 
was unable to count the openings she had given him 
thereto. For one of the frankest of men he had kept 
his secret, so far as words went, with a remarkable 
tenacity. Probably the neighbourhood of Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh was enough to make the veriest chatterbox se- 
cretive. But notwithstanding, no one possessing the 
clue could live in the same house with him these June 
days without seeing that the whole man was absorbed, 
transformed, and that the crisis might be reached at 
any moment. Even the vicar was eager and watchful, 
and playing up to his wife in fine style, and if the 
situation had so worked on the vicar, Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh's state is easier imagined than described. 
[ 164 ] 


The walk to Shanmoor need not be chronicled. The 
party kept together. Robert fancied sometimes that 
there was a certain note of purpose in the way in 
which Catherine clung to the vicar. If so it did not 
disquiet him. Never had she been kinder, more gen- 
tle. Nay, as the walk went on, a lovely gaiety broke 
through her tranquil manner, as though she, like the 
others, had caught exhilaration from the sharpened 
breeze and the towering mountains, restored to all 
their grandeur by the storm-clouds. 

And yet she had started in some little inward 
trouble. She had promised to join this walk to Shan- 
moor, she had promised to go with the others on a 
picnic the following day, but her conscience was prick- 
ing her. Twice this last fortnight had she been forced 
to give up a night-school she held in a little lonely 
hamlet among the fells, because even she had been too 
tired to walk there and back after a day of physical 
exertion. Were not the world and the flesh encroach- 
ing? She had been conscious of a strange inner rest- 
lessness as they all stood waiting in the road for the 
vicar and Elsmere. Agnes had thought her looking 
depressed and pale, and even dreamt for a moment of 
suggesting to her to stay at home. And then ten min- 
utes after they had started it had all gone, her depres- 
sion, blown away by the winds, or charmed away 
by a happy voice, a manly presence, a keen responsive 

Elsmere, indeed, was gaiety itself. He kept up an 

incessant war with Rose; he had a number of little 

jokes going at the vicar's expense, which kept that 

good man in a half-protesting chuckle most of the 

[ 165 ] 


way; he cleared every gate that presented itself in 
first-rate Oxford form, and climbed every point of 
rock with a cat-like agility that set the girls scoffing 
at the pretence of invalidism under which he had 
foisted himself on Whindale. 

' How fine all this black purple is ! ' he cried, as they 
topped the ridge, and the Shanmoor valley lay before 
them, bounded on the other side by line after line of 
mountain, Wetherlam and the Pikes and Fairfield in 
the far distance, piled sombrely under a sombre sky. 
' I had grown quite tired of the sun. He had done his 
best to make you commonplace/ 

'Tired of the sun in Westmoreland?' said Catherine, 
with a little mocking wonder. 'How wanton, how 
prodigal ! ' 

'Does it deserve a Nemesis?' he said, laughing. 
' Drowning from now till I depart? No matter. I can 
bear a second deluge with an even mind. On this 
enchanted soil all things are welcome ! ' 

She looked up, smiling, at his vehemence, taking it 
all as a tribute to the country, or to his own recovered 
health. He stood leaning on his stick, gazing, however, 
not at the view, but at her. The others stood a little 
way off laughing and chattering. As their eyes met, 
a strange new pulse leapt up in Catherine. 

'The wind is very boisterous here/ she said, with 
a shiver. ' I think we ought to be going on/ 

And she hurried up to the others, nor did she leave 
their shelter till they were in sight of the little Shan- 
moor inn, where they were to have tea. The pony- 
carriage was already standing in front of the inn, and 
Mrs. Thornburgh's grey curls shaking at the window. 
[ 166 ] 


'William!' she shouted, 'bring them in. Tea is just 
ready, and Mr. Ruskin was here last week, and there 
are ever so many new names in the visitors' book!' 

While the girls went in, Elsmere stood looking a 
moment at the inn, the bridge, and the village. It 
was a characteristic Westmoreland scene. The low 
whitewashed inn, with its newly painted signboard, 
was to his right, the pony at the door lazily flicking 
off the flies and dropping its greedy nose in search of 
the grains of corn among the cobbles ; to his left a grey 
stone bridge over a broad light-filled river ; beyond, a 
little huddled village backed by and apparently built 
out of the great slate quarry which represented the 
only industry of the neighbourhood, and a tiny tow- 
ered church the scene on the Sabbath of Mr. May- 
hew 's ministrations. Beyond the village, shoulders of 
purple fell, and behind the inn masses of broken crag 
rising at the very head of the valley into a fine pike, 
along whose jagged edges the rain-clouds were trailing. 
There was a little lurid storm-light on the river, but, 
in general, the colour was all dark and rich, the white 
inn gleaming on a green-and-purple background. He 
took it all into his heart, covetously, greedily, trying 
to fix it there for ever. 

Presently he was called in by the vicar, and found 
a tempting tea spread in a light upper room, where 
Agnes and Rose were already making fun of the 
chromo-lithographs and rummaging the visitors' 
book. The scrambling, chattering meal passed like a 
flash. At the beginning of it Mrs. Thornburgh's small 
grey eyes had travelled restlessly from face to face, 
as though to say, 'What no news yet? Nothing 
[ 167 ] 


happened?' As for Elsmere, though it seemed to him 
at the time one of the brightest moments of existence, 
he remembered little afterwards but the scene; the 
peculiar clean mustiness of the room only just opened 
for the summer season, a print of the Princess of 
Wales on the wall opposite him, a stuffed fox over the 
mantelpiece, Rose's golden head and heavy amber 
necklace, and the figure at the vicar's right, in a gown 
of a little dark blue check, the broad hat shading the 
white brow and luminous eyes. 

When tea was over they lounged out on the bridge. 
There was to be no long lingering, however. The 
clouds were deepening, the rain could not be far off. 
But if they started soon they could probably reach 
home before it came down. Elsmere and Rose hung 
over the grey stone parapet, mottled with the green- 
and-gold of innumerable mosses, and looked down 
through a fringe of English maidenhair growing along 
the coping, into the clear eddies of the stream. Sud- 
denly he raised himself on one elbow, and, shading 
his eyes, looked to where the vicar and Catherine were 
standing in front of the inn, touched for an instant 
by a beam of fitful light slipping between two great 

' How well that hat and dress become your sister ! ' 
he said, the words breaking, as it were, from his 

'Do you think Catherine pretty?' said Rose, with 
an excellent pretence of innocence, detaching a little 
pebble and flinging it harmlessly at a water-wagtail 
balancing on a stone below. 

He flushed. ' Pretty! You might as well apply the 
[ 168 ] 


word to your mountains, to the exquisite river, to 
that great purple peak!' 

'Yes/ thought Rose, 'she is not unlike that high 
cold peak ! ' But her girlish sympathy conquered her ; 
it was very exciting, and she liked Elsmere. She 
turned back to him, her face overspread with a quite 
irrepressible smile. He reddened still more, then they 
stared into each other's eyes, and without a word 
more understood each other perfectly. 

Rose held out her hand to him with a little brusque 
bon camarade gesture. He pressed it warmly in his. 

' That was nice of you ! ' he cried. ' Very nice of you ! 
Friends then?' 

She nodded, and drew her hand away just as Agnes 
and the vicar disturbed them. 

Meanwhile Catherine was standing by the side of 
the pony-carriage, watching Mrs. Thornburgh 's pre- 

'You're sure you don't mind driving home alone?' 
she said in a troubled voice. 'May n't I go with you?' 

'My dear, certainly not! As if I was n't accustomed 
to going about alone at my time of life ! No, no, my 
dear, you go and have your walk; you'll get home 
before the rain. Ready, James/ 

The old vicarage factotum could not imagine what 
made his charge so anxious to be off. She actually 
took the whip out of his hand and gave a flick to the 
pony, who swerved and started off in a way which 
would have made his mistress clamorously nervous 
under any other circumstances. Catherine stood look- 
ing after her. 

' Now, then, right about face and quick march ! ' ex- 
[ 169 ] 


claimed the vicar. 'We've got to race that cloud over 
the Pike. It'll be up with us in no time/ 

Off they started, and were soon climbing the slippery 
green slopes, or crushing through the fern of the fell 
they had descended earlier in the afternoon. Catherine 
for some little way walked last of the party, the vicar 
in front of her. Then Elsmere picked a stonecrop, 
quarrelled over its precise name with Rose, and waited 
for Catherine, who had a very close and familiar know- 
ledge of the botany of the district. 

'You have crushed me/ he said, laughing, as he put 
the flower carefully into his pocket-book; 'but it is 
worth while to be crushed by any one who can give so 
much ground for their knowledge. How you do know 
your mountains from their peasants to their 

' I have had more than ten able-bodied years living 
and scrambling among them/ she said, smiling. 

' Do you keep up all your visits and teaching in the 

' Oh, not so much, of course ! But people must be 
helped and taught in the winter. And our winter is 
often not as hard as yours down South/ 

' Do you go on with that night-school in Poll Ghyll, 
for instance?' he said, with another note in his voice. 

Catherine looked at him and coloured. 'Rose has 
been telling tales/ she said. 'I wish she would leave 
my proceedings alone. Poll Ghyll is the family bone 
of contention at present. Yes, I go on with it. I al- 
ways take a lantern when the night is dark, and I 
know every inch of the ground, and Bob is always 
with me; are n't you, Bob?' 

[ 170 ] 


And she stooped down to pat the collie beside her. 
Bob looked up at her, blinking with a proudly con- 
fidential air as though to remind her that there were 
a good many such secrets between them. 

'I like to fancy you with your lantern in the dark/ 
he cried, the hidden emotion piercing through; 'the 
night wind blowing about you, the black mountains 
to right and left of you, some little stream, perhaps, 
running beside you for company, your dog guarding 
you, and all good angels going with you/ 

She flushed still more deeply ; the impetuous words 
affected her strangely. 

'Don't fancy it at all/ she said, laughing. 'It is a 
very small and very natural incident of one's life here. 
Look back, Mr. Elsmere ; the rain has beaten us ! ' 

He looked back and saw the great Pike over Shan- 
moor village blotted out in a moving deluge of rain. 
The quarry opposite on the mountain-side gleamed 
green and vivid against the ink-black fell ; some clothes 
hanging out in the field below the church flapped 
wildly hither and thither in the sudden gale, the only 
spot of white in the prevailing "blackness; children 
with their petticoats over their heads ran homewards 
along the road the walking party had just quitted ; the 
stream beneath, spreading broadly through the fields, 
shivered and wrinkled under the blast. Up it came, 
and the rain mists with it. In another minute the 
storm was beating in their faces. 

'Caught!' cried Elsmere, in a voice almost of jubi- 
lation. ' Let me help you into your cloak, Miss Ley- 

He flung it round her, and struggled into his own 


mackintosh. The vicar in front of them turned and 
waved his hand to them in laughing despair, then 
hurried after the others, evidently with the view of 
performing for them the same office Elsmere had just 
performed for Catherine. 

Robert and his companion struggled on for a while 
in a breathless silence against the deluge, which seemed 
to beat on them from all sides. He walked behind her, 
sheltering her by his tall form and his big umbrella as 
much as he could. His pulses were all aglow with the 
joy of the storm. It seemed to him that he rejoiced 
with the thirsty grass over which the rain streams 
were running, that his heart filled with the shrunken 
becks as the flood leapt along them. Let the elements 
thunder and rave as they pleased. Could he not at a 
word bring the light of that face, those eyes, upon him? 
Was she not his for a moment in the rain and the soli- 
tude, as she had never been in the commonplace sun- 
shine of their valley life? 

Suddenly he heard an exclamation, and saw her run 
on in front of him. What was the matter? Then he 
noticed for the first time that Rose, far ahead, was still 
walking in her cotton dress. The little scatterbrain 
had, of course, forgotten her cloak. But, monstrous! 
There was Catherine stripping off her own, Rose re- 
fusing it. In vain. The sister's determined arms put it 
round her. Rose is enwrapped, buttoned up before she 
knows where she is, and Catherine falls back, pursued 
by some shaft from Rose, more sarcastic than grateful, 
to judge by the tone of it. 

'Miss Leyburn, what have you been doing?' 

' Rose had forgotten her cloak, ' she said briefly. ' She 
[ 172 ] 


has a very thin dress on, and she is the only one of us 
that takes cold easily/ 

'You must take my mackintosh/ he said at once. 

She laughed in his face. 

'As if I should do anything of the sort! 7 

'You must/ he said, quietly stripping it off. 'Do 
you think that you are always to be allowed to go 
through the world taking thought of other people and 
allowing no one to take thought for you?' 

He held it out to her. 

' No, no ! This is absurd, Mr. Elsmere. You are not 
strong yet. And I have often told you that nothing 
hurts me/ 

He hung it deliberately over his arm. 'Very well, 
then, there it stays ! ' 

And they hurried on again, she biting her lip and 
on the point of laughter. 

'Mr. Elsmere, be sensible!' she said presently, her 
look changing to one of real distress. ' I should never 
forgive myself if you got a chill after your illness!' 

'You will not be called upon/ he said in the most 
matter-of-fact tone. 'Men's coats are made to keep 
out weather/ and he pointed to his own, closely but- 
toned up. ' Your dress I can't help being disrespect- 
ful under the circumstances will be wet through 
in ten minutes/ 

Another silence. Then he overtook her. 

'Please, Miss Leyburn/ he said, stopping her. 

There was an instant's mute contest between them. 

The rain splashed on the umbrellas. She could not help 

it, she broke down into the merriest, most musical laugh 

of a child that can hardly stop itself, and he joined. 

[ 173 ] 


'Mr. Elsmere, you are ridiculous!' 

But she submitted. He put the mackintosh round 
her, thinking, bold man, as she turned her rosy rain- 
dewed face to him, of Wordsworth's 'Louisa/ and the 
poet's cry of longing. 

And yet he was not so bold either. Even at this 
moment of exhilaration he was conscious of a bar that 
checked and arrested. Something what was it? 
drew invisible lines' of defence about her. A sort of 
divine fear of her mingled with his rising passion. Let 
him not risk too much too soon. 

They walked on briskly, and were soon on the Whin- 
dale side of the pass. To the left of them the great 
hollow of High Fell unfolded, storm-beaten and dark, 
the river issuing from the heart of it like an angry voice. 

'What a change ! ' he said, coming up with her as the 
path widened. 'How impossible that it should have 
been only yesterday afternoon I was lounging up here 
in the heat, by the pool where the stream rises, watch- 
ing the white butterflies on the turf, and reading 

'"Laodamia"!' she said, half -sighing as she caught 
the name. 'Is it one of those you like best?' 

'Yes,' he said, bending forward that he might see 
her in spite of the umbrella. '-How superb it is the 
roll, the majesty of it ; the severe chastened beauty of 
the main feeling, the individual lines!' 

And he quoted line after line, lingering over the 

'It was my father's favourite of all,' she said, in the 
low vibrating voice of memory. ' He said the last verse 
to me the day before he died.' 
[ 174 ] 

Robert recalled it 

' Yet tears to human suffering are due, 
And mortal hopes defeated and o'erthrown 
Are mourned by man, and not by man alone 
As fondly we believe.' 

Poor Richard Leyburn ! Yet where had the defeat 

'Was he happy in his school life?' he asked gently. 
'Was teaching what he liked?' 

' Oh yes only - ' Catherine paused and then 
added hurriedly, as though drawn on in spite of herself 
by the grave sympathy of his look, ' I never knew any- 
body so good who thought himself of so little account. 
He always believed that he had missed everything, 
wasted everything, and that anybody else would have 
made infinitely more out of his life. He was always 
blaming, scourging himself. And all the time he was 
the noblest, purest, most devoted ' 

She stopped. Her voice had passed beyond her con- 
trol. Elsmere was startled by the feeling she showed. 
Evidently he had touched one of the few sore places in 
this pure heart. It was as though her memory of her 
father had in it elements of almost intolerable pathos, 
as though the child's brooding love and loyalty were 
in perpetual protest, even now after this lapse of years, 
against the verdict which an over-scrupulous, despond- 
ent soul had pronounced upon itself. Did she feel that 
he had gone uneomforted out of life even by her 
even by religion? was that the sting? 

'Oh, I can understand!' he said reverently 'I can 
understand. I have come across it once or twice, 
that fierce self -judgement of the good. It is the most 
[ 175 ] 


stirring and humbling thing in life.' Then his voice 
dropped. 'And after the last conflict the last 
"quailing breath" the last onslaughts of doubt or 
fear think of the Vision waiting the Eternal 

'"Oh, my only Light!* 
It cannot be 
That I am he 
On whom Thy tempests fell all night!'" 

The words fell from the softened voice like noble 

There was a pause. Then Catherine raised her eyes 
to his. They swam in tears, and yet the unspoken 
thanks in them were radiance itself. It seemed to him 
as though she came closer to him like a child to an elder 
who has soothed and satisfied an inward smart. 

They walked on in silence. They were just nearing 
the swollen river which roared below them. On the 
opposite bank two umbrellas were vanishing through 
the field gate into the road, but the vicar had turned 
and was waiting for them. They could see his be- 
cloaked figure leaning on his stick through the light 
wreaths of mist that floated above the tumbling 
stream. The abnormally *heavy rain had ceased, but 
the clouds seemed to be dragging along the very floor 
of the valley. 

The stepping-stones came into sight. He leapt on 
the first and held out his hand to her. When they 
started she would have refused his help with scorn. 
Now, after a moment's hesitation she yielded, and he 
felt her dear weight on him as he guided her carefully 
from stone to stone. In reality it is both difficult 
[ 176 ] 

The Stepping -Stones 


and risky to be helped over stepping-stones. You 
had much better manage for yourself ; and halfway 
through Catherine had a mind to tell him so. But the 
words died on her lips which smiled instead. He could 
have wished that passage from stone to stone could 
have lasted for ever. She was wrapped up grotesquely 
in his mackintosh; her hat was all bedraggled; her 
gloves dripped in his ; and in spite of all he could have 
vowed that anything so lovely as that delicately cut, 
gravely smiling face, swaying above the rushing brown 
water, was never seen in Westmoreland wilds before. 

'It is clearing/ he cried, with ready optimism, as 
they reached the bank. 'We shall get our picnic to- 
morrow after all we must get it! Promise me it 
shall be fine and you will be there ! ' 

The vicar was only fifty yards away waiting for 
them against the field gate. But Robert held her 
eagerly, imperiously and it seemed to her her head 
was still dizzy with the water. 

'Promise!' he repeated, his voice dropping. 

She could not stop to think of the absurdity of pro- 
mising for Westmoreland weather. She could only say 
faintly ' Yes ! ' and so release her hand. 

' You are pretty wet ! ' said the vicar, looking from 
one to the other with a curiosity which Robert's quick 
sense divined at once was directed to something else 
than the mere condition of their garments. But Cath- 
erine noticed nothing ; she walked on wrestling blindly 
with she knew not what till they reached the vicarage 
gate. There stood Mrs. Thornburgh, the light drizzle 
into which the rain had declined beating unheeded on 
her curls and ample shoulders. She stared at Robert's 
[ 177 ] 


drenched condition, but he gave her no time to make 

'Don't take it off/ he said, with a laughing wave of 
the hand to Catherine ; ' I will come for it to-morrow 

And he ran up the drive/conscious at last that it 
might be prudent to get himself into something less 
sponge-like than his present attire as quickly as pos- 

The vicar followed him. 

'Don't keep Catherine, my dear. There's nothing 
to tell. Nobody's the worse/ 

Mrs. Thornburgh took no heed. Opening the iron 
gate she went through it on to the deserted rain-beaten 
road, laid both her hands on Catherine's shoulders, 
and looked her straight in the eyes. The vicar's anx- 
ious hint was useless. She could contain herself no 
longer. She had watched them from the vicarage 
come down the fell together, had seen them cross the 
stepping-stones, lingeringly, hand in hand. 

'My dear Catherine!' she cried, effusively kissing 
Catherine's glowing cheek under the shelter of the 
laurustinus that made a bower of the gate. 'My dear 

Catherine gazed at her in astonishment. Mrs. 
Thornburgh 's eyes were all alive, and swarming with 
questions. If it had been Rose she would have let 
them out in one fell flight. But Catherine's personality 
kept her in awe. And after a second, as the two stood 
together, a deep flush rose on Catherine's face, and an 
expression of half-frightened apology dawned in Mrs. 
Thornburgh 's. 

[ 178 ] 


Catherine drew herself away. 'Will you please give 
Mr. Elsmere his mackintosh?' she said, taking it off; 
'I shan't want it this little way/ 

And putting it on Mrs. Thornburgh's arm she turned 
away, walking quickly round the bend of the road. 

Mrs.. Thornburgh watched her open-mouthed, and 
moved slowly back to the house in a state of complete 

'I always knew' she said with a groan 'I al- 
ways knew it would never go right if it was Catherine ! 
Why was it Catherine?' 

And she went in, still hurling at Providence the 
same vindictive query. 

Meanwhile Catherine, hurrying home, the receding 
flush leaving a sudden pallor behind it, was twisting 
her hands before her in a kind of agony. 

'What have I been doing?' she said to herself. 
'What have I been doing?' 

At the gate of Burwood something made her look 
up. She saw the girls in their own room Agnes was 
standing behind, Rose had evidently rushed forward 
to see Catherine come in, and now retreated as sud- 
denly when she saw her sister look up. 

Catherine understood it all in an instant. 'They, 
too, are on the watch,' she thought to herself bitterly. 
The strong reticent nature was outraged by the per- 
ception that she had been for days the unconscious 
actor in a drama of which her sisters and Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh had been the silent and intelligent spectators. 

She came down presently from her room very white 
and quiet, admitted that she was tired, and said no- 
thing to anybody. Agnes and Rose noticed the change 
[ 179 ] 


at once, whispered to each other when they found an 
opportunity, and foreboded ill. 

After their tea-supper, Catherine, unperceived, 
slipped out of the little lane gate, and climbed the 
stony path above the house leading on to the fell. The 
rain had ceased, but the clouds hung low and threaten- 
ing, and the close air was saturated with moisture. 
As she gained the bare fell, sounds of water met her on 
all sides. The river cried hoarsely to her from below, 
the becks in the little ghylls were full and thunderous ; 
and beside her over the smooth grass slid many a new- 
born rivulet, the child of the storm, and destined to 
vanish with the night. Catherine's soul went out to 
welcome the grey damp of the hills. She knew them 
best in this mood. They were thus most her own. 

She climbed on till at last she reached the crest of 
the ridge. Behind her lay the valley, and on its farther 
side the fells she had crossed in the afternoon. Before 
her spread a long green vale, compared to which Whin- 
dale with its white road, its church, and parsonage, 
and scattered houses, was the great world itself. 
Marrisdale had no road and not a single house. As 
Catherine descended into it she saw not a sign of hu- 
man life. There were sheep grazing in the silence of the 
long June twilight; the blackish walls ran down and 
up again, dividing the green hollow with melancholy 
uniformity. Here and there was a sheepfold, suggest- 
ing the bleakness of winter nights ; and here and there 
a rough stone barn for storing fodder. And beyond 
the vale, eastwards and northwards, Catherine looked 
out upon a wild sea of moors wrapped in mists, sullen 
and storm-beaten, while to the left the clouds hung 
[ 180 ] 


deepest and inkiest over the high points of the Ulls- 
water mountains. 

When she was once below the pass, man and his 
world were shut out. The girl figure in the blue cloak 
and hood was absolutely alone. She descended till she 
reached a point where a little stream had been turned 
into a stone trough for cattle. Above it stood a gnarled 
and solitary thorn. Catherine sank down on a rock at 
the foot of the tree. It was a seat she knew well ; she 
had lingered there with her father; she had thought 
and prayed there as girl and woman ; she had wrestled 
there often with despondency or grief, or some of those 
subtle spiritual temptations which were all her pure 
youth had known, till the inner light had dawned 
again, and the humble enraptured soul could almost 
have traced amid the shadows of that dappled moor- 
land world, between her and the clouds, the white 
stoles and ' sleeping wings' of ministering spirits. 

But no wrestle had ever been so hard as this. And 
with what fierce suddenness had it come upon her! 
She looked back over the day with bewilderment. She 
could see dimly that the Catherine who had started 
on that Shanmoor walk had been full of vague misgiv- 
ings other than those concerned with a few neglected 
duties. There had been an undefined sense of unrest, 
of difference, of broken equilibrium. She had shown 
it in the way in which at first she had tried to keep 
herself and Robert Elsmere apart. 

And then; beyond the departure from Shanmoor 
she seemed to lose the thread of her own history. Mem- 
ory was drowned in a feeling to which the resisting 
soul as yet would give no name. She laid her head on 
[ 181 ] - 


her knees trembling. She heard again the sweet im- 
perious tones with which he broke down her opposition 
about the cloak ; she felt again the grasp of his steady- 
ing hand on hers. 

But it was only for a very few minutes that she 
drifted thus. She raised her head again, scourging her- 
self in shame and self-reproach, recapturing the empire 
of the soul with a strong effort. She set herself to a 
stern analysis of the whole situation. Clearly Mrs. 
Thornburgh and her sisters had been aware for some 
indefinite time that Mr. Elsmere had been showing 
a peculiar interest in her. Their eyes had been open. 
She realised now with hot cheeks how many meetings 
and tete-a-tetes had been managed for her and Elsmere, 
and how complacently she had fallen into Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh's snares. 

'Have I encouraged him?' she asked herself sternly. 

'Yes/ cried the smarting conscience. 

' Can I marry him ? ' 

'No/ said conscience again; 'not without deserting 
your post, not without betraying your trust/ 

What post? What trust? Ah, conscience was ready 
enough with the answer. Was it not just ten years 
since, as a girl of sixteen, prematurely old and thought- 
ful, she had sat beside her father's deathbed, while her 
delicate hysterical mother, in a state of utter collapse, 
was kept away from him by the doctors? She could 
see the drawn face, the restless melancholy eyes. 
' Catherine, my darling, you are the strong one. They 
will look to you. Support them/ And she could see in 
imagination her own young face pressed against the 
pillows. 'Yes, father, always always!' 'Cather- 
,[ 182 ] 


ine, life is harder, the narrow way narrower than ever. 
I die' --and memory caught still the piteous, long- 
drawn breath by which the voice was broken ' in 
much much perplexity about many things. You 
have a clear soul, an iron will. Strengthen the others. 
Bring them safe to the day of account/ 'Yes, 
father, with God's help. Oh, with God's help!' 

That long-past dialogue is clear and sharp to her 
now, as though it were spoken afresh in her ears. And 
how has she kept her pledge? She looks back humbly 
on her life of incessant devotion, on the tie of long 
dependence which has bound to her her weak and 
widowed mother, on her relations to her sisters, the 
efforts she has made to train them in the spirit of her 
father's life and beliefs. 

Have those efforts reached their term? Can it be said 
in any sense that her work is done, her promise kept? 

Oh, no no ! she cries to herself with vehemence. 
Her mother depends on her every day and hour for 
protection, comfort, enjoyment. The girls are at the 
opening of life, Agnes twenty, Rose eighteen, with 
all experience to come. And Rose - Ah ! at the 
thought of Rose, Catherine's heart sinks deeper and 
deeper she feels a culprit before her father's mem- 
ory. What is it has gone so desperately wrong with her 
training of the child ? Surely she has given love enough, 
anxious thought enough, and here is Rose only fighting 
to be free from the yoke of her father's wishes, from 
the galling pressure of the family tradition ! 

No. Her task has just now reached its most difficult, 
its most critical, moment. How can she leave it? 

[ 183 ] 


What claim can she put against these supreme 
claims of her promise, her mother's and sisters' 

His claim? Oh, no no ! She admits with soreness 
and humiliation unspeakable that she has done him 
wrong. If he loves her she has opened the way thereto ; 
she confesses in her scrupulous honesty that when the 
inevitable withdrawal comes she will have given him 
cause to think of her hardly, slightingly. She flinches 
painfully under the thought. But it does not alter the 
matter. This girl, brought up in the austerest school 
of Christian self-government, knows nothing of the 
divine rights of passion. Half modern literature is 
based upon them. Catherine Leyburn knew of no 
supreme right but the right of God to the obedience 
of man. 

Oh, and besides besides it is impossible that he 
should care so very much. The time is so short 
there is so little in her, comparatively, to attract a man 
of such resource, such attainments, such access to the 
best things of life. 

She cannot in a kind of terror she will not, 
believe in her own love-worthiness, in her own power 
to deal a lasting wound. 

Then her own claim? Has she any claim, has the 
poor bounding heart that she cannot silence, do what 
she will, through all this strenuous debate, no claim 
to satisfaction, to joy? 

She locks her hands round her knees, conscious, 

poor soul, that the worst struggle is here, the quickest 

agony here. But she does not waver for an instant. 

And her weapons are all ready. The inmost soul of her 

[ 184 ] 


is a fortress well stored, whence at any moment the 
mere personal craving of the natural man can be met, 
repulsed, slain. 

'Man approacheth so much the nearer unto God the 
farther he departeth from all earthly comfort.' 

'If thou couldst perfectly annihilate thyself and empty 
thyself of all created love, then should I be constrained to 
flow into thee with greater abundance of grace.' 

' When thou lookest unto the creature the sight of the 
Creator is withdrawn from thee.' 

'Learn in all things to overcome thyself for the love of 
thy Creator. . . .' 

She presses the sentence she has so often meditated 
in her long solitary walks about the mountains into her 
heart. And one fragment of George Herbert especially 
rings in her ears, solemnly, funereally - 

' Thy Saviour sentenced joy!' 

Aye, sentenced it for ever the personal craving, 
the selfish need, that must be filled at any cost. In the 
silence of the descending night Catherine quietly, with 
tears, carried out that sentence, and slew her young 
new-born joy at the feet of the Master. 

She stayed where she was for a while after this crisis 
in a kind of bewilderment and stupor, but maintaining 
a perfect outward tranquillity. Then there was a curi- 
ous little epilogue. 

'It is all over/ she said to herself tenderly. 'But 
he has taught me so much he has been so good to 
me he is so good ! Let me take to my heart some 
counsel some word of his, and obey it sacredly 
silently for these days' sake.' 
[ 185 ] 


Then she fell thinking again, and she remembered 
their talk about Rose. How often she had pondered 
it since ! In this intense trance of feeling it breaks upon 
her finally that he is right. May it not be that he with 
his clearer thought, his wider knowledge of life, has 
laid his finger on the weak point in her guardianship 
of her sister? 'I have tried to stifle her passion/ she 
thought, 'to push it out of the way as a hindrance. 
Ought I not rather to have taught her to make of it a 
step in the ladder to have moved her to bring her 
gifts to the altar? Oh, let me take his word for it be 
ruled by him in this one thing, once ! ' 

She bowed her face on her knees again. It seemed 
to her that she had thrown herself at Elsmere's feet, 
that her cheek was pressed against that young brown 
hand of his. How long the moment lasted she never 
knew. When at last she rose stiff and weary, darkness 
was overtaking even the lingering Northern twilight. 
The angry clouds had dropped lower on the moors ; a 
few sheep beside the glimmering stone trough showed 
dimly white ; the night wind was sighing through the 
untenanted valley and the scanty branches of the 
thorn. White mists lay along the hollow of the dale ; 
they moved weirdly under the breeze. She could have 
fancied them a troop of wraiths to whom she had flung 
her warm crushed heart, and who were bearing it away 
to burial. 

As she came slowly over the pass and down the 
Whindale side of the fell a clear purpose was in her 
mind. Agnes had talked to her only that morning of 
Rose and Rose's desire, and she had received the news 
with her habitual silence. 

[ 186 ] 


The house was lit up when she returned. Her mother 
had gone upstairs. Catherine went to her, but even 
Mrs. Leyburn discovered that she looked worn out, 
and she was sent off to bed. She went along the pass- 
age quickly to Rose's room, listening a moment at the 
door. Yes, Rose was inside, crooning some German 
song, and apparently alone. She knocked and went 

Rose was sitting on the edge of her bed, a white 
dressing-gown over her shoulders, her hair in a glorious 
confusion all about her. She was swaying backwards 
and forwards dreamily singing, and she started up 
when she saw Catherine. 

'Roschen/ said the elder sister, going up to her with 
a tremor of heart, and putting her motherly arms 
round the curly golden hair and the half-covered 
shoulders, 'you never told me of that letter from Man- 
chester, but Agnes did. Did you think, Roschen, I 
would never let you have your way? Oh, I am not 
so hard ! I may have been wrong I think I have 
been wrong ; you shall do what you will, Roschen. If 
you want to go, I will ask mother/ 

Rose, pushing herself away with one hand, stood 
staring. She was struck dumb by this sudden break- 
ing down of Catherine's long resistance. And what a 
strange white Catherine ! What did it mean? Cath- 
erine withdrew her arms with a little sigh and moved 

'I just came to tell you that, Roschen/ she said, 
'but I am very tired and must not stay/ 

Catherine ' very tired ' ! Rose thought the skies must 
be falling. 

[ 187 ] 


'Cathie!' she cried, leaping forward just as her 
sister gained the door. ' Oh, Cathie, you are an angel, 
and I am a nasty, odious little wretch. But oh, tell 
me, what is the matter?' 

And she flung her strong young arms round Cath- 
erine with a passionate strength. 

The elder sister struggled to release herself. 

' Let me go, Rose/ she said in a low voice. ' Oh, you 
must let me go!' 

And wrenching herself free, she drew her hand over 
her eyes as though trying to drive away the mist from 

'Good-night! Sleep well/ 

And she disappeared, shutting the door noiselessly 
after her. Rose stood staring a moment, and then, 
swept off her feet by a flood of many feelings re- 
morse, love, fear, sympathy threw herself face down- 
wards on her bed and burst into a passion of tears. 


CATHERINE was much perplexed as to how she was 
to carry out her resolution; she pondered over it 
through much of the night. She was painfully anx- 
ious to make Elsmere understand without a scene, 
without a definite proposal and a definite rejection. 
It was no use letting things drift. Something brusque 
and marked there must be. She quietly made her dis- 

It was long after the grey vaporous morning stole on 
the hills before she fell lightly, restlessly asleep. To 
her healthful youth a sleepless night was almost un- 
known. She wondered through the long hours of it, 
whether now, like other women, she had had her story, 
passed through her one supreme moment, and she 
thought of one or two worthy old maids she knew in 
the neighbourhood with a new and curious pity. Had 
any of them, too, gone down into Marrisdale and come 
up widowed indeed? 

All through, no doubt, there was a certain melan- 
choly pride in her own spiritual strength. ' It was not 
mine/ she would have said with perfect sincerity, 
'but God's/ Still, whatever its source, it had been 
there at command, and the reflexion carried with it 
a sad sense of security. It was as though a soldier 
after his first skirmish should congratulate himself 
on being bullet-proof. 

To be sure, there was an intense trouble and dis- 
[ 189 ] 


quiet in the thought that she and Mr. Elsmere must 
meet again, probably many times. The period of his 
original invitation had been warmly extended by the 
Thornburghs. She believed he meant to stay another 
week or ten days in the valley. But in the spiritual 
exaltation of the night she felt herself equal to any 
conflict, any endurance, and she fell asleep, the hands 
clasped on her breast expressing a kind of resolute pa- 
tience, like those of some old sepulchral monument. 

The following morning Elsmere examined the clouds 
and the barometer with abnormal interest. The day 
was sunless and lowering, but not raining, and he 
represented to Mrs. Thornburgh, with a hypocritical 
assumption of the practical man, that with rugs and 
mackintoshes it was possible to picnic on the dampest 
grass. But he could not make out the vicar's wife. 
She was all sighs and flightiness. She 'supposed they 
could go/ and 'didn't see what good it would do 
them' ; she had twenty different views, and all of them 
more or less mixed up with pettishness, as to the best 
place for a picnic on a grey day ; and at last she grew 
so difficult that Robert suspected something desper- 
ately wrong with the household, and withdrew lest 
male guests might be in the way. Then she pursued 
him into the study and thrust a Spectator into his 
hands, begging him to convey it to Burwood. She 
asked it lugubriously with many sighs, her cap much 
askew. Robert could have kissed her, curls and all, 
one moment for suggesting the errand, and the next 
could almost have signed her committal to the county 
lunatic asylum with a clear conscience. What an 
extraordinary person it was ! 
[ 190 ] 


Off he went, however, with his Spectator under his 
arm, whistling. Mrs. Thornburgh caught the sounds 
through an open window, and tore the flannel across 
she was preparing for a mothers' meeting with a noise 
like the rattle of musketry. Whistling! She would 
like to know what grounds he had for it, indeed ! She 
always knew she always said, and she would go on 
saying that Catherine Leyburn would die an old 

Meanwhile Robert had strolled across to Burwood 
with the lightest heart. By way of keeping all his 
anticipations within the bounds of strict reason, he told 
himself that it was impossible he should see 'her' in 
the morning. She was always busy in the morning. 

He approached the house as a Catholic might ap- 
proach a shrine. That was her window, that upper 
casement with the little Banksia rose twining round 
it. One night, when he and the vicar had been out 
late on the hills, he had seen a light streaming from it 
across the valley, and had thought how the mistress of 
the maiden solitude within shone/ in a naughty world/ 

In the drive he met Mrs. Leyburn, who was stroll- 
ing about the garden. She at once informed him with 
much languid plaintiveness that Catherine had gone to 
Whinborough for the day, and would not be able 
to join the picnic. 

Elsmere stood still. 

'Gone!' he cried. 'But it was all arranged with her 

Mrs. Leyburn shrugged her shoulders. She too 
was evidently much put out. 

'So I told her. But you know, Mr. Elsmere' and 


the gentle widow dropped her voice as thotigh com- 
municating a secret 'when Catherine 's once made 
up her mind, you may as well try to dig away High 
Fell as move her. She asked me to tell Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh will you, please? that she found it was her 
day for the orphan asylum, and one or two other 
pieces of business, and she must go/ 

' Mrs. Thornburgh ! ' And not a word for him for 
him to whom she had given her promise? She had 
gone to Whinborough to avoid him, and she had gone 
in the brusquest way, that it might be unmistakeable. 

The young man stood with his hands thrust into the 
pockets of his long coat, hearing with half an ear the 
remarks that Mrs. Leyburn was making to him about 
the picnic. Was the wretched thing to come off after 

He was too proud and sore to suggest an alter- 
native. But Mrs. Thornburgh managed that for him. 
When he got back, he told the vicar in the hall of Miss 
Leyburn 's flight in the fewest possible words, and 
then his long legs vanished up the stairs in a twink- 
ling, and the door of his room shut behind him. A few 
minutes afterwards Mrs. Thornburgh 's shrill voice was 
heard in the hall calling to the servant. 

'Sarah, let the hamper alone. Take out the chick- 

And a minute after the vicar came up to his door. 

'Elsmere, Mrs. Thornburgh thinks the day is too 
uncertain; better put it off/ 

To which Elsmere from inside replied with a vigor- 
ous assent. The vicar slowly descended to tackle his 
spouse, who seemed to have established herself for 
[ 192 ] 


the morning in his sanctum, though the parish ac- 
counts were clamouring to be done, and this morning 
in the week belonged to them by immemorial usage. 

But Mrs. Thornburgh was unmanageable. She sat 
opposite to him with one hand on each knee, solemnly 
demanding of him if he knew what was to be done 
with young women nowadays, because she did n't. 

The tormented vicar declined to be drawn into so 
illimitable a subject, recommended patience, declared 
that it might be all a mistake, and tried hard to absorb 
himself in the consideration of 2s. 8d. plus 2s. lid. 
minus 9d. 

'And I suppose, William/ said his wife to him at last, 
with withering sarcasm, 'that you'd sit by and see 
Catherine break that young man's heart, and send 
him back to his mother no better than he came here, 
in spite of all the beef -tea and jelly Sarah and I have 
been putting into him, and never lift a finger. You'd 
see his life blasted and you 'd do nothing nothing, 
I suppose.' 

And she fixed him with a fiercely interrogative eye. 

'Of course,' cried the vicar, roused ; 'I should think 
so. What good did an outsider ever get by meddling 
in a love-affair? Take care of yourself, Emma. If the 
girl does n't care for him, you can't make her.' 

The vicar's wife rose, the upturned corners of her 
mouth saying unutterable things. 

' Does n't care for him ! ' she echoed in a tone which 
implied that her husband's headpiece was past pray- 
ing for. 

'Yes, does n't care for him!' said the vicar, nettled. 
'What else should make her give him a snub like this?' 
[ 193 ] 


Mrs. Thornburgh looked at him again with exas- 
peration. Then a curious expression stole into her 

'Oh, the Lord only knows!' she said, with a hasty 
freedom of speech which left the vicar feeling decidedly 
uncomfortable as she shut the door after her. 

However, if the Higher Powers alone knew, Mrs. 
Thornburgh was convinced that she could make a very 
shrewd guess at the causes of Catherine's behaviour. 
In her opinion it was all pure 'cussedness.' Catherine 
Leyburn had always conducted her life on principles 
entirely different from those of other people. Mrs. 
Thornburgh wholly denied, as she sat bridling by 
herself, that it was a Christian necessity to make your- 
self and other people uncomfortable. Yet this was 
what this perverse young woman was always doing. 
Here was a charming young man who had fallen in 
love with her at first sight, and had done his best to 
make the fact plain to her in the most chivalrous de- 
voted ways. Catherine encourages him, walks with 
him, talks with him, is for a whole three weeks more 
gay and cheerful and more like other girls than she 
has ever been known to be, and then, at the end of it, 
just when everybody is breathlessly awaiting the 
natural denouement, goes off to spend the day that 
should have been the day of her betrothal, in pottering 
about orphan asylums, leaving everybody, but espe- 
cially the poor young man, to look ridiculous ! No, 
Mrs. Thornburgh had no patience with her none 
at all. It was all because she would not be happy like 
anybody else, but must needs set herself up to be 
peculiar. Why not live on a pillar, and go into hair- 
[ 194 ] 


shirts at once? Then the rest of the world would know 
what to be at. 

Meanwhile Rose was in no small excitement. While 
her mother and Elsmere had been talking in the garden 
she had been discreetly waiting in the back behind the 
angle of the house, and when she saw Elsmere walk 
off she followed him with eager sympathetic eyes. 

' Poor fellow ! ' she said to herself, but this time with 
the little tone of patronage which a girl of eighteen, 
conscious of graces and good looks, never shrinks from 
assuming towards an elder male, especially a male in 
love with some one else. ' I wonder whether he thinks 
he knows anything about Catherine/ 

But her own feeling to-day was very soft and com- 
plex. Yesterday it had been all hot rebellion. To-day 
it was all remorse and wondering curiosity. What had 
brought Catherine into her room, with that white face, 
and that bewildering change of policy? What had 
made her do this brusque, discourteous thing to-day? 
Rose, having been delayed by the loss of one of her 
goloshes in a bog, had been once near her and Elsmere 
during that dripping descent from Shanmoor. They 
had been so clearly absorbed in one another that she 
had fled on guiltily to Agnes, golosh in hand, without 
waiting to put it on ; confident, however, that neither 
Elsmere nor Catherine had been aware of her little 
adventure. And at the Shanmoor tea Catherine her- 
self had discussed the picnic, offering, in fact, to guide 
the party to a particular ghyll in High Fell, better 
known to her than any one else. 

'Oh, of course it's our salvation in this world and 
the next that's in the way/ thought Rose, sitting 
[ 195 ] 


crouched up in a grassy nook in the garden, her 
shoulders up to her ears, her chin in her hands. 'I 
wish to goodness Catherine would n't think so much 
about mine, at any rate. I hate/ added this incor- 
rigible young person ' I hate being the third part of 
a "moral obstacle " against my will. I declare I don't 
believe we should any of us go to perdition even if 
Catherine did marry. And what a wretch I am to think 
so after last night! Oh dear, I wish she'd let me do 
something for her; I wish she'd ask me to black her 
boots for her, or put in her tuckers, or tidy her drawers 
for her, or anything worse still, and I 'd do it and wel- 

It was getting uncomfortably serious all round, 
Rose admitted. But there was one element of comedy 
besides Mrs. Thornburgh, and that was Mrs. Leyburn's 

'Mamma is too good/ thought the girl, with a little 
ripple of laughter. ' She takes it as a matter of course 
that all the world should admire us, and she'd scorn 
to believe that anybody did it from interested motives.' 

Which was perfectly true. Mrs Leyburn was too 
devoted to her daughters to feel any fidgety interest 
in their marrying. Of course the most eligible persons 
would be only too thankful to marry them when 
the moment came. Meanwhile her devotion was in 
no need of the confirming testimony of lovers. It 
was sufficient in itself, and kept her mind gently oc- 
cupied from morning till night. If it had occurred to 
her to notice that Robert Elsmere had been paying 
special attentions to any one in the family, she would 
have suggested with perfect naivete that it was herself. 
[ 196 ] 


p'or he had been to her the very pink of courtesy and 
consideration, and she was of opinion that 'poor 
Richard's' views of the degeneracy of Oxford men 
would have been modified could he have seen this 
particular specimen. 

Later on in the morning Rose had been out giving 
Bob a run, while Agnes drove with her mother. On 
the way home she overtook Elsmere returning from an 
errand for the vicar. 

' It is not so bad/ she said to him, laughing, pointing 
to the sky; 'we really might have gone/ 

'Oh, it would have been cheerless/ he said simply. 
His look of depression amazed her. She felt a quick 
movement of sympathy, a wild wish to bid him cheer 
up and fight it out. If she could just have shown him 
Catherine as she looked last night! Why couldn't 
she talk it out with him? Absurd conventions! She 
had half a mind to try. 

But the grave look of the man beside her deterred 
even her young half-childish audacity. 

'Catherine will have a good day, for all her business/ 
she said carelessly. 

He assented quietly. Oh, after that hand-shake on 
the bridge yesterday she could not stand it, she 
must give him a hint how the land lay. 

' I suppose she will spend the afternoon with Aunt 
Ellen. Mr. Elsmere, what did you think of Aunt 

Elsmere started, and could not help smiling into the 
young girl 's beautiful eyes, which were radiant with fun. 

'A most estimable person/ he said. 'Are you on 
good terms with her, Miss Rose?' 
[ 197 ] 


'Oh dear, no!' she said, with a little face. 'I'm not 
a Leyburn; I wear aesthetic dresses, and Aunt Ellen 
has "special leadings of the spirit" to the effect that 
the violin is a soul-destroying instrument. Oh dear ! ' 

and the girl's mouth twisted 'it's alarming to 
think, if Catherine had n't been Catherine, how like 
Aunt Ellen she might have been ! ' 

She flashed a mischievous look at him, and thrilled 
as she caught the sudden change of expression in his 

'Your sister has the Westmoreland strength in her 
- one can see that,' he said, evidently speaking with 
some difficulty. 

'Strength! Oh yes. Catherine has plenty of 
strength,' cried Rose, and then was silent a moment. 
'You know, Mr. Elsmere,' she went on at last, obeying 
some inward impulse 'or perhaps you don't know 

that, at home, we are all Catherine's creatures. 
She does exactly what she likes with us. When my 
father died she was sixteen, Agnes was ten, I was 
eight. We came here to live we were not very rich, 
of course, and mamma was n't strong. Well, she did 
everything : she taught us we have scarcely had any 
teacher but her since then ; she did most of the house- 
keeping; and you can see for yourself what she does 
for the neighbours and poor folk. She is never ill, she 
is never idle, she always knows her own mind. We owe 
everything we are, almost everything we have, .to her. 
Her nursing has kept mamma alive through one or 
two illnesses. Our lawyer says he never knew any 
business affairs better managed than ours, and Cath- 
erine manages them. The one thing she never takes 

[ 198 ] 


any care or thought for is herself. What we should do 
without her I can't imagine; and yet sometimes I 
think if it goes on much longer none of us three will 
have any character of our own left. After all, you 
know, it may be good for the weak people to struggle 
on their own feet, if the strong would only believe it, 
instead of always being carried. The strong people 
need n't be always trampling on themselves, if they 
only knew ' 

She stopped abruptly, flushing scarlet over her own 
daring. Her eyes were feverishly bright, and her voice 
vibrated under a strange mixture of feelings sym- 
pathy, reverence, and a passionate inner admiration 
struggling with rebellion and protest. 

They had reached the gate of the vicarage. Elsmere 
stopped and looked at his companion with a singular 
lightening of expression. He saw perfectly that the 
young impetuous creature understood him, that she 
felt his cause was not prospering, and that she wanted 
to help him. He saw that what she meant by this pic- 
ture of their common life was that no one need expect 
Catherine Ley burn to be an easy prey ; that she wanted 
to impress on him in her eager way that such lives as 
her sister's were not to be gathered at a touch, without 
difficulty, from the branch that bears them. She was 
exhorting him to courage, nay, he caught more than 
exhortation, a sort of secret message from her 
bright excited looks and incoherent speech that made 
his heart leap. But pride and delicacy forbade him to 
put his feeling into words. 

'You don't hope to persuade me that your sister 
reckons you among the weak persons of the world?' 
[ 199 ] 


he said, laughing, his hand on the gate. Rose could 
have blessed him for thus turning the conversation. 
What on earth could she have said next? 

She stood bantering a little longer, and then ran off 
with Bob. 

Elsmere passed the rest of the morning wandering 
meditatively over the cloudy fells. After all he was 
only where he was, before the blessed madness, the 
upflooding hope, nay, almost certainty, of yesterday. 
His attack had been for the moment repulsed. He 
gathered from Rose's manner that Catherine's action 
with regard to the picnic had not been unmeaning nor 
accidental, as on second thoughts he had been half- 
trying to persuade himself. Evidently those about her 
felt it to be ominous. Well, then, at worst, when they 
met they would meet on a different footing, with a 
sense of something critical between them. Oh, if he 
did but know a little more clearly how he stood ! He 
spent a noonday hour on a grey rock on the side of the 
fell between Whindale and Marrisdale, studying the 
path opposite, the stepping-stones, the bit of white 
road. The minutes passed in a kind of trance of mem- 
ory. Oh, that soft childlike movement to him, after 
his speech about her father! that heavenly yielding 
and self-forgetfulness which shone in her every look 
and movement as she stood balancing on the stepping- 
stones! If after all she should prove cruel to him, 
would he not have a legitimate grievance, a heavy 
charge to fling against her maiden gentleness? He 
trampled on the notion. Let her do with him as she 
would, she would be his saint always, unquestioned, 

[ 200 ] 


But with such a memory in his mind it was impos- 
sible that any man, least of all a man of Elsmere's 
temperament, could be very hopeless. Oh yes, he had 
been rash, foolhardy. Do such divine creatures stoop 
to mortal men as easily as he had dreamt? He re- 
cognises all the difficulties, he enters into the force 
of all the ties that bind her or imagines that he does. 
But he is a man and her lover ; and if she loves him, 
in the end love will conquer must conquer. For his 
more modern sense, deeply Christianised as it is, as- 
sumes almost without argument the sacredness of pas- 
sion and its claim wherein a vast difference between 
himself and that solitary wrestler in Marrisdale. 

Meanwhile he kept all his hopes and fears to himself. 
Mrs. Thornburgh was dying to talk to him ; but though 
his mobile, boyish temperament made it impossible. 
for him to disguise his change of mood, there was in 
him a certain natural dignity which life greatly devel- 
oped, but which made it always possible for him to 
hold his own against curiosity and indiscretion. Mrs. 
Thornburgh had to hold her peacs. As for the vicar, he 
developed what were for him a surprising number of 
new topics of conversation, and in the late afternoon 
took Elsmere a run up the fells to the nearest fragment 
of the Roman road which runs, with such magnificent 
disregard of the humours of Mother Earth, over the 
very top of High Street towards Penrith and Carlisle. 

Next day it looked as though after many waverings 
the characteristic Westmoreland weather had de- 
scended upon them in good earnest. From early morn 
till late evening the valley was wrapped in damp 
clouds or moving rain, which swept down from the 
[ 201 ] 


west through the great basin of the hills, and rolled 
along the course of the river, wrapping trees and fells 
and houses in the same misty cheerless drizzle. Under 
the outward pall of rain, indeed, the valley was renew- 
ing its summer youth ; the river was swelling with an 
impetuous music through all" its dwindled channels; 
the crags flung out white waterfalls again, which the 
heat had almost dried away; and by noon the whole 
green hollow was vocal with the sounds of water - 
water flashing and foaming in the river, water leaping 
downwards from the rocks, water dripping steadily 
from the larches and sycamores and the slate-eaves 
of the houses. 

Elsmere sat indoors reading up the history of the 
parish system of Surrey, or pretending to do so. He 
,sat in a corner of the study, where he and the vicar 
^protected each other against Mrs. Thornburgh. That 
good woman would open the door once and again in 
the morning, and put her head through in search of 
prey ; but on being confronted with two studious men 
instead of one, each buried up to the ears in folios, 
she would give vent to an irritable cough and retire 
discomfited. In reality Elsmere was thinking of no- 
thing in the world but what Catherine Leyburn might 
be doing that morning. Judging a North-country 
woman by the pusillanimous Southern standard, he 
found himself glorying in the weather. She could not 
wander far from him to-day. 

After the early dinner he escaped, just as the vicar's 

wife was devising an excuse on which to convey both 

him and herself to Burwood, and sallied forth with a 

mackintosh for a rush down the Whinborough road. 

[ 202 ] 

Whindale Valley 


It was still raining, but the clouds showed a moment- 
ary lightening, and a few gleams of watery sunshine 
brought out every now and then that sparkle on the 
trees, that iridescent beauty of distance and atmo- 
sphere which goes so far to make a sensitive spectator 
forget the petulant abundance of mountain rain. 
Elsmere passed Burwood with a thrill. Should he or 
should he not present himself? Let him push on a bit 
and think. So on he swung, measuring his tall frame 
against the gusts, spirits and masculine energy rising 
higher with every step. At last the passion of his mood 
had wrestled itself out with the weather, and he turned 
back once more determined to seek and find her, to 
face his fortunes like a man. The warm rain beating 
from the west struck on his uplifted face. He wel- 
comed it as a friend. Rain and storm had opened to 
him the gates of a spiritual citadel. What could ever 
wholly close it against him any more? He felt so 
strong, so confident ! Patience and courage ! 

Before him the great hollow of High Fell was just 
coming out from the white mists surging round it. A 
shaft of sunlight lay across its upper end, and he 
caught a marvellous apparition of a sunlit valley hung 
in air, a pale strip of blue above it, a white thread of 
stream wavering through it, and all around it and 
below it the rolling rain-clouds. 

Suddenly between him and that enchanter's vision 
he saw a dark slim figure against the mists, walking 
before him along the road. It was Catherine Cath- 
erine just emerged from a footpath across the fields, 
battling with wind and rain, and quite unconscious 
of any spectator. Oh, what a sudden thrill was that ! 
[ 203 ] 


what a leaping together of joy and dread, which sent 
the blood to his heart ! Alone they two alone again 
in the wild Westmoreland mists, and half a mile 
at least of winding road between them and Burwood. 
He flew after her, dreading, and yet longing for the 
moment when he should meet her eyes. Fortune 
had suddenly given this hour into his hands; he felt 
it open upon him like that mystic valley in the clouds. 

Catherine heard the hurrying steps behind her and 
turned. There was an evident start when she caught 
sight of her pursuer a quick change of expression. 
She wore a close-fitting waterproof dress and cap. Her 
hair was lightly loosened, her cheek freshened by the 
storm. He came up with her ; he took her hand, his 
eyes dancing with the joy he could not hide. 

'What are you made of, I wonder!' he said gaily. 
'Nothing, certainly, that minds weather/ 

' No Westmoreland native thinks of staying at home 
for this/ she said with her quiet smile, moving on be- 
side him as she spoke. 

He looked down upon her with an indescribable 
mixture of feelings. No stiffness, no coldness in her 
manner only the even gentleness which always 
marked her out from others. He felt as though yes- 
terday were blotted out, and would not for worlds 
have recalled it to her or reproached her with it. Let 
it be as though they were but carrying on the scene 
of the stepping-stones. 

'Look/ he said, pointing to the west; 'have you 
been watching that magical break in the clouds?' 

Her eyes followed his to the delicate picture hung 
high among the moving mists. 
[ 204 ] 


'Ah,' she exclaimed, her face kindling, 'that is one 
of our loveliest effects, and one of the rarest. You are 
lucky to have seen it.' 

'I am conceited enough,' he said joyously, 'to feel 
as if some enchanter were at work up there drawing 
pictures on the mists for my special benefit. How wel- 
come the rain is ! As I am afraid you have heard me 
say before, what new charm it gives to your valley ! ' 

There was something in the buoyancy and force of 
his mood that seemed to make Catherine shrink into 
herself. She would not pursue the subject of West- 
moreland. She asked with a little stiffness whether 
he had good news from Mrs. Elsmere. 

'Oh yes. As usual, she is doing everything for me,' 
he said, smiling. 'It is disgraceful that I should be 
idling here while she is struggling with carpenters 
and paperers, and puzzling out the decorations of the 
drawing-room. She writes to me in a fury about the 
word "artistic." She declares even the little uphol- 
sterer at Churton hurls it at her every other minute, 
and that if it were n't for me she would select every- 
thing as frankly, prime vally hideous as she could find, 
just to spite him. As it is, he has so warped her judge- 
ment that she has left the sitting-room papers till I 
arrive. For the drawing-room she avows a passionate 
preference for one all cabbage-roses and no stalks ; but 
she admits that it may be exasperation. She wants 
your sister, clearly, to advise her. By the way,' and 
his voice changed, 'the vicar told me last night that 
Miss Rose is going to Manchester for the winter to 
study. He heard it from Miss Agnes, I think. The 
news interested me greatly after our conversation.' 
[ 205 ] 


He looked at her with the most winning interroga- 
tive eyes. His whole manner implied that everything 
which touched and concerned her touched and con- 
cerned him ; and, moreover, that she had given him in 
some sort aright to share her thoughts and difficulties. 
Catherine struggled with herself. 

'I trust it may answer/ she said in a low voice. 

But she would say no more, and he felt rebuffed. 
His buoyancy began to desert him. 

'It must be a great trial to Mrs. Elsmere/ she said 
presently with an effort, once more steering away from 
herself and her concerns, 'this going back to her old 

' It is. My father's long struggle for life in that house 
is a very painful memory. I wished her to put it off 
till I could go with her, but she declared she would 
rather get over the first week or two by herself. How 
I should like you to know my mother, Miss Leyburn ! ' 

At this she could not help meeting his glance and 
smile, and answering them, though with a kind of 
constraint most unlike her. 

'I hope I may some day see Mrs. Elsmere/ she said. 

' It is one of my strongest wishes/ he answered hur- 
riedly, 'to bring you together.' 

The words were simple enough ; the tone was full of 
emotion. He was fast losing control of himself. She 
felt it through every nerve, and a sort of wild dread 
seized her of what he might say next. Oh, she must, 
she must prevent it ! 

'Your mother was with you most of your Oxford 
life, was she not?' she said, forcing herself to speak in 
her most everyday tones. 

[ 206 ] 


He controlled himself with a mighty effort. 

' Since I became a Fellow. We have been alone in the 
world so long. We have never been able to do without 
each other/ 

'Isn't it wonderful to you?' said Catherine, after 
a little electric pause and her voice was steadier 
and clearer than it had been since the beginning of 
their conversation 'how little the majority of sons 
and daughters regard their parents when they come 
to grow up and want to live their own lives? The one 
thought seems to be to get rid of them, to throw off 
their claims, to cut them adrift, to escape them - 
decently, of course, and under many pretexts, but still 
to escape them. All the long years of devotion and self- 
sacrifice go for nothing/ 

He looked at her quickly a troubled, questioning 

' It is so, often ; but not, I think, where the parents 
have truly understood their problem. The real dif- 
ficulty for father and mother is not childhood, but 
youth; how to get over that difficult time when the 
child passes into the man or woman, and a relation 
of governor and governed should become the purest 
and closest of friendships. You and I have been 

'Yes/ she said, looking straight before her, and still 
speaking with a distinctness which caught his ear pain- 
fully, 'and so are the greater debtors! There is no 
excuse, I think, for any child, least of all for the child 
who has had years of understanding love to look 
back upon, if it puts its own claim first ; if it insists on 
satisfying itself, when there is age and weakness ap- 
[ 207 ] 


pealing to it on the other side, when it is still urgently 
needed to help those older, to shield those younger, 
than itself. Its business first of all is to pay its debt, 
whatever the cost/ 

The voice was low, but it had the clear vibrating 
ring of steel. Robert's face had darkened visibly. 

'But, surely/ he cried, goaded by a new stinging 
sense of revolt and pain 'surely the child may make 
a fatal mistake if it imagines that its own happiness 
counts for nothing in the parents' eyes. What par- 
ent but must suffer from the starving of the child's 
nature? What have mother and father been working 
for, after all, but the perfecting of the child's life? 
Their longing is that it should fulfil itself in all direc- 
tions. New ties, new affections, on the child's part, 
mean the enriching of the parent. What a cruel fate 
for the elder generation, to make it the jailer and 
burden of the younger!' 

He spoke with heat and anger, with a sense of dash- 
ing himself against an obstacle, and a dumb despair- 
ing certainty rising at the heart of him. 

'Ah, that is what we are so ready to say,' she an- 
swered, her breath coming more quickly, and her eye 
meeting his with a kind of antagonism in it ; ' but it is 
all sophistry. The only safety lies in following out 
the plain duty. The parent wants the child's help and 
care, the child is bound to give it ; that is all it needs 
to know. If it forms new ties, it belongs to them, not to 
the old ones ; the old ones must come to be forgotten 
and put aside.' 

'So you would make all life a sacrifice to the past?' 
he cried, quivering under the blow she was dealing him. 
[ 208 ] 


'No, not all life,' she said, struggling hard to pre- 
serve her perfect calm of manner : he could not know 
that she was trembling from head to foot. ' There are 
many for whom it is easy and right to choose their own 
way; their happiness robs no one. There are others 
on whom a charge has been laid from their childhood, 
a charge perhaps' --and her voice faltered at last - 
'impressed on them by dying lips, which must govern, 
possess their lives ; which it would be baseness, trea- 
son, to betray. We are not here only to be happy/ 

And she turned to him deadly pale, the faintest, 
sweetest smile on her lips. He was for the moment 
incapable of speech. He began phrase after phrase, 
and broke them off. A whirlwind of feeling possessed 
him. The strangeness, the unworldliness of what she 
had done struck him singularly. He realised through 
every nerve that what she had just said to him she 
had been bracing herself to say to him ever since their 
last parting. And now he could not tell, or rather, 
blindly could not see, whether she suffered in the say- 
ing it. A passionate protest rose in^him, not so much 
against her words as against her self-control. The man 
in him rose up against the woman's unlooked-for, 
unwelcome strength. 

But as the hot words she had dared so much in her 
simplicity to avert from them both were bursting 
from him, they were checked by a sudden physical 
difficulty. A bit of road was under water. A little 
beck, swollen by the rain, had overflowed, and for a 
few yards' distance the water stood about eight inches 
deep from hedge to hedge. Robert had splashed 
through the flood half an hour before, but it had risen 
[ 209 ] 


rapidly since then. He had to 1 apply his mind to the 
practical task of finding a way to the other side. 

' You must climb the bank/ he said, 'and get through 
into the field/ 

She assented mutely. He went first, drew her up 
the bank, forced his way through the loosely growing 
hedge himself, and holding back some young hazel 
saplings and breaking others, made an opening for her 
through which she scrambled with bent head; then, 
stretching out his hand to her, he made her submit to 
be helped down the steep bank on the other side. Her 
straight young figure was just above him, her breath 
almost on his cheek. 

'You talk of baseness and treason/ he began pas- 
sionately, conscious of a hundred wild impulses, as per- 
force she leant her light weight upon his arm. 'Life 
is not so simple. It is so easy to sacrifice others with 
one's self, to slay all claims in honour of one, instead 
of knitting the new ones to the old. Is life to be al- 
lowed no natural expansion ? Have you forgotten that, 
in refusing the new bond for the old bond's sake, the 
child may be simply wronging the parents, depriving 
them of another affection, another support, which 
ought to have been theirs?' 

His tone was harsh, almost violent. It seemed to 
him that she grew suddenly white, and he grasped her 
more firmly still. She reached the level of the field, 
quickly withdrew her hand, and for a moment their 
eyes met, her pale face raised to his. It seemed an age, 
so much was said in that look. There was appeal on 
her side, passion on his. Plainly she implored him to 
say no more, to spare her and himself. 
[ 210 ] 


'In some cases/ she said, and her voice sounded 
strained and hoarse to both of them, 'one cannot risk 
the old bond. One dare not trust one's self or cir- 
cumstance. The responsibility is too great; one can 
but follow the beaten path, cling to the one thread. 
But don't let us talk of it any more. We must make 
for that gate, Mr. Elsmere. It will bring us out on the 
road again close by home/ 

He was quelled. Speech suddenly became impossible 
to him. He was struck again with that sense of a will 
firmer and more tenacious than his own, which had 
visited him in a slight passing way on the first even- 
ing they ever met, and now filled him with a kind of 
despair. As they pushed silently along the edge of the 
dripping meadow, he noticed with a pang that the 
stepping-stones lay just below them. The gleam of 
sun had died away, the aerial valley in the clouds 
had vanished, and a fresh storm of rain brought back 
the colour to Catherine's cheek. On their left hand 
was the roaring of the river, on their right they could 
already hear the wind moaning and tearing through 
the trees which sheltered Burwood. The Nature which 
an hour ago had seemed to him so full of stimulus and 
exhilaration had taken to herself a note of gloom and 
mourning; for he was at the age when Nature is the 
mere docile responsive mirror of the spirit, when all 
her forces and powers are made for us, and are only 
there to play chorus to our story. 

They reached the little lane leading to the gate of 
Burwood. She paused at the foot of it. 

'You will come in and see my mother, Mr. Els- 


Her look expressed a yearning she could not crush. 
'Your pardon, your friendship/ it cried, with the 
usual futility of all good women under the circum- 
stances. But as he met it for one passionate instant, 
he recognised fully that there .was not a trace of yield- 
ing in it. At the bottom of the softness there was the 
iron of resolution. 

'No, no; not now/ he said involuntarily; and she 
never forgot the painful struggle of the face; 'good- 
bye/ He touched her hand without another word, and 
was gone. 

She toiled up to the gate with difficulty, the grey 
rainwashed road, the wall, the trees, swimming before 
her eyes. 

In the hall she came across Agnes, who caught hold 
of her with a start. 

'My dear Cathie! you have been walking yourself 
to death. You look like a ghost. Come and have some 
tea at once/ 

And she dragged her into the drawing-room. Cather- 
ine submitted with all her usual outward calm, faintly 
smiling at her sister's onslaught. But she would not 
let Agnes put her down on the sofa. She stood with 
her hand on the back of a chair. 

'The weather is very close and exhausting/ she 
said, gently lifting her hand to her hat. But the hand 
dropped, and she sank heavily into the chair. 

'Cathie, you are faint/ cried Agnes, running to 

Catherine waved her away, and, with an effort of 
which none but she would have been capable, mastered 
the physical weakness. 

[ 212 ] 


'I have been a long way, dear/ she said, as though 
in apology, 'and there is no air. Yes, I will go up- 
stairs and lie down a minute or two. Oh no, don't 
come, I will be down for tea directly/ 

And refusing all help, she guided herself out of the 
room, her face the colour of the foam on the beck out- 
side. Agnes stood dumbfoundered. Never in her life 
before had she seen Catherine betray any such signs 
of physical exhaustion. 

Suddenly Rose ran in, shut the door carefully behind 
her, and rushing up to Agnes put her hands on her 

' He has proposed to her, and she has said no ! ' 

'He? What, Mr. Elsmere? How on earth can you 

' I saw them from upstairs come to the bottom of the 
lane. Then he rushed on, and I have just met her on 
the stairs. It's as plain as the nose on your face.' 

Agnes sat down bewildered. 

'It is hard on him/ she said at last. 

' Yes, it is very hard on him ! ' cried Rose, pacing the 
room, her long, thin arms clasped behind her, her eyes 
flashing, ' for she loves him ! ' 


'She does, my dear, she does/ cried the girl, frown- 
ing. ' I know it in a hundred ways/ 

Agnes ruminated. 

'And it's all because of us?' she said at last reflect- 

'Of course! I put it to you, Agnes' - and Rose 
stood still with a tragic air 'I put it to you, whether 
it is n't too bad that three unoffending women should 
[ 213 ] 


have such a role as this assigned them against their 

The eloquence of eighteen was irresistible. Agnes 
buried her head in the sofa cushion, and shook with 
a kind of helpless laughter. Rose meanwhile stood in 
the window, her thin form drawn up to its full height, 
angry with Agnes, and enraged with all the world. 

'It's absurd, it's insulting/ she exclaimed. 'I 
should imagine that you and I, Agnes, were old enough 
and sane enough to look after mamma, put out the 
stores, say our prayers, and prevent each other from 
running away with adventurers! I won't be always 
in leading-strings. I won't acknowledge that Catherine 
is bound to be an old maid to keep me in order. I hate 
it ! It is sacrifice run mad/ 

And Rose turned to her sister, the defiant head 
thrown back, a passion of manifold protest in the 
girlish looks. 

' It is very easy, my dear, to be judge in one's own 
case,' replied Agnes calmly, recovering herself. 'Sup- 
pose you tell Catherine some of these home truths?' 

Rose collapsed at once. She sat down despondently, 
and fell, head drooping, into a moody silence. Agnes 
watched her with a kind of triumph. When it came 
to the point, she knew perfectly well that there was 
not a will among them that could measure itself with 
any chance of success against that lofty but unwaver- 
ing will of Catherine's. Rose was violent, and there 
was much reason in her violence. But as for her, 
she preferred not to dash her head against stone 

'Well, then, if you won't say them to Catherine, 
[ 214 ] 


say them to mamma/ she suggested presently, but 

'Mamma is no good/ cried Rose angrily; 'why do 
you bring her in? Catherine would talk her round in 
ten minutes/ 

Long after every one else in Burwood, even the 
chafing, excited Rose, was asleep, Catherine in her 
dimly lighted room, where the stormy northwest wind 
beat noisily against her window, was sitting in a low 
chair, her head leaning against her bed, her little well- 
worn Testament open on her knee. But she was not 
reading. Her eyes were shut; one hand hung down 
beside her, and tears were raining fast and silently 
over her cheeks. It was the stillest, most restrained 
weeping. She hardly knew why she wept, she only 
knew that there was something within her which 
must have its way. What did this inner smart and 
tumult mean, this rebellion of the self against the will 
which had never yet found its mastery fail it? It was 
as though from her childhood till now she had lived 
in a moral world whereof the aims, the dangers, the 
joys, were all she knew; and now the walls of this 
world were crumbling round her, and strange lights, 
strange voices, strange colours were breaking through. 
All the sayings of Christ which had lain closest to her 
heart for years, to-night for the first time seem to her 
no longer sayings of comfort or command, but sayings 
of fire and flame that burn their coercing way through 
life and thought. We recite so glibly, ' He that loseth 
his life shall save it' ; and when we come to any of the 
common crises of experience which are the source 
and the sanction of the words, flesh and blood recoil. 
[ 215 ] 


This girl amid her mountains had carried religion as 
far as religion can be carried before it meets life in the 
wrestle appointed it. The calm, simple outlines of 
things are blurring before her eyes; the great placid 
deeps of the soul are breaking up. 

To the purest ascetic temper a struggle of this kind 
is hardly real. Catherine felt a bitter surprise at her 
own pain. Yesterday a sort of mystical exaltation 
upheld her. What had broken it down? 

Simply a pair of reproachful eyes, a pale protesting 
face. What trifles compared to the awful necessities 
of an infinite obedience! And yet they haunt her, 
till her heart aches for misery, till she only yearns to 
be counselled, to be forgiven, to be at least understood. 

'Why, why am I so weak?' she cried in utter abase- 
ment of soul, and knew not that in that weakness, 
or rather in the founts of character from which it 
sprang, lay the innermost safeguard of her life. 


ROBERT was very nearly reduced to despair by the 
scene with Catherine we have described. He spent 
a brooding and miserable hour in the vicar's study 
afterwards, making up his mind as to what he should 
do. One phrase of hers which had passed almost un- 
noticed in the shock of the moment was now ringing 
in his ears, maddening him by a sense of joy just 
within his reach, and yet barred away from him by 
an obstacle as strong as it was intangible. ' We are not 
here only to be happy/ she had said to him, with a look 
of ethereal exaltation worthy of her namesake of 
Alexandria. The words had slipped from her invol- 
untarily in the spiritual tension of her mood. They 
were now filling Robert Elsmere's mind with a tor- 
menting, torturing bliss. What could they mean? 
What had her paleness, her evident trouble and weak- 
ness meant, but that the inmost' self of hers was his, 
was conquered; and that, but for the shadowy ob- 
stacle between them, all would be well? 

As for the obstacle in itself, he did not admit its 
force for a moment. No sane and practical man, least 
of all when that man happened to be Catherine Ley- 
burn's lover, could regard it as a binding obligation 
upon her that she should sacrifice her own life and 
happiness to three persons, who were in no evident 
moral straits, no physical or pecuniary need, and who, 
as Rose incoherently put it, might very well be rather 
[ 217 J 


braced than injured by the withdrawal of her strong 

But the obstacle of character ah, there was a dif- 
ferent matter ! He realised with despair the brooding 
scrupulous force of moral passion to which her lonely 
life, her antecedents, and her lather's nature working 
in her had given so rare and marked a development. 
No temper in the world is so little open to reason as 
the ascetic temper. How many a lover and husband, 
how many a parent and friend, have realised to their 
pain, since history began, the overwhelming attrac- 
tion which all the processes of self-annihilation have 
for a certain order of minds! Robert's heart sank 
before the memory of that frail indomitable look, that 
aspect of sad yet immoveable conviction with which 
she had bade him farewell. And yet, surely surely 
under the willingness of the spirit there had been a 
pitiful, a most womanly weakness of the flesh. Surely, 
now memory reproduced the scene, she had been white 
trembling : her hand had rested on the moss-grown 
wall beside her for support. Oh, why had he been so 
timid? why had he let that awe of her, which her per- 
sonality produced so readily, stand between them? 
why had he not boldly caught her to himself, and, 
with all the eloquence of a passionate nature, trampled 
on her scruples, marched through her doubts, con- 
vinced reasoned her into a blessed submission? 

'And I will do it yet!' he cried, leaping to his feet 
with a sudden access of hope and energy. And he 
stood a while looking out into the rainy evening, all 
the keen irregular face and thin pliant form hardening 
into the intensity of resolve, which had so often carried 
[ 218 ] 


the young tutor through an Oxford difficulty, break- 
ing down antagonism and compelling consent. 

At the high tea which represented the late dinner 
of the household he was wary and self-possessed, Mrs. 
Thornburgh got out of him that he had been for a walk, 
and had seen Catherine, but for all her ingenuities of 
cross-examination she got nothing more. Afterwards, 
when he and the vicar were smoking together, he pro- 
posed to Mr. Thornburgh that they two should go off 
for a couple of days on a walking-tour to Ullswater. 

'I want to go away/ he said, with a hand on the 
vicar's shoulder, 'and I want to come back.' The de- 
liberation of the last words was not to be mistaken. 
The vicar emitted a contented puff, looked the young 
man straight in the eyes, and without another word 
began to plan a walk to Patterdale via High Street, 
Martindale, and Howtown, and back by Haweswater. 

To Mrs. Thornburgh Robert announced that he 
must leave them on the following Saturday, June 24. 

'You have given me a good time, Cousin Emma/ 
he said to her, with a bright friendliness which dumb- 
foundered her. A good time, indeed! with every- 
thing begun and nothing finished ; with two house- 
holds thrown into perturbation for a delusion, and 
a desirable marriage spoilt, all for want of a little 
common sense and plain speaking, which one person 
at least in the valley could have supplied them with, 
had she not been ignored and browbeaten on all sides. 
She contained herself, however, in his presence, but 
the vicar suffered proportionately in the privacy of 
the connubial chamber. He had never seen his wife 
so exasperated. To think what might have been, 
[ 319 ] 


what she might have done for the race, but for the 
whims of two stuck-up, superior, impracticable young 
persons, that would neither manage their own affairs 
nor allow other people to manage them for them! 
The vicar behaved gallantly, kept the secret of Els- 
mere's remark to himself like a man, and allowed him- 
self certain counsels against matrimonial meddling 
which plunged Mrs. Thornburgh into well-simulated 
slumber. However, in the morning he was vaguely 
conscious that some time in the visions of the night 
his spouse had demanded of him peremptorily, 
' When do you get back, William? ' To the best of his 
memory the vicar had sleepily murmured, ' Thursday ' ; 
and had then heard, echoed through his dreams, a 
calculating whisper, 'He goes Saturday one clear 

The following morning was gloomy but fine, and 
after breakfast the vicar and Elsmere started off. 
Robert turned back at the top of the High Fell pass 
and stood leaning on his alpenstock, sending a pas- 
sionate farewell to the grey distant house, the upper 
window, the copper beech in the garden, the bit of 
winding road, while the vicar discreetly stepped on 
northward, his eyes fixed on the wild regions of 

Mrs. Thornburgh, left alone, absorbed herself to all 
appearance in the school treat which was to come off 
in a fortnight, in a new set of covers for the drawing- 
room, and in Sarah's love-affairs, which were always 
passing through some tragic phase or other, and into 
which Mrs. Thornburgh was allowed a more unen- 
cumbered view than she was into Catherine Leyburn's. 
[ 220 ] 


Rose and Agnes dropped in now and then, and found 
her not at all disposed to talk to them on the great 
event of the day Elsmere's absence and approach- 
ing departure. They cautiously communicated to her 
their own suspicions as to the incident of the preceding 
afternoon ; and Rose gave vent to one fiery onslaught 
on the 'moral obstacle' theory, during which Mrs. 
Thornburgh sat studying her with small attentive 
eyes and curls slowly waving from side to side. But 
for once in her life the vicar's wife was not commun- 
icative in return. That the situation should have 
driven even Mrs. Thornburgh to finesse was a sur- 
prising testimony to its gravity. What between her 
sudden taciturnity and Catherine's pale silence, the 
girl's sense of expectancy was roused to its highest 

'They come back to-morrow night/ said Rose 
thoughtfully, 'and he goes Saturday 10.20 from 
Whinborough one day for the Fifth Act! By the 
way, why did Mrs. Thornburgh ask us to say nothing 
about Saturday at home?' 

She had asked them, however ; and with a pleasing 
sense of conspiracy they complied. 

It was late on Thursday afternoon when Mrs. 
Thornburgh, finding the Burwood front door open, 
made her unchallenged way into the hall, and after 
an unanswered knock at the drawing-room door, 
opened it and peered in to see who might be there. 

'May I come in?' 

Mrs. Leyburn, who was a trifle deaf, was sitting by 
the window absorbed in the intricacies of a heel which 
seemed to her more than she could manage. Her card 


was mislaid, the girls were none of them at hand, and 
she felt as helpless as she commonly did when left 

' Oh, do come in, please ! So glad to see you. Have 
you been nearly blown away?' 

For, though the rain had stopped, a boisterous 
northwest wind was still rushing through the valley, 
and the trees round Burwood were swaying and groan- 
ing under the force of its onslaught. 

'Well, it is stormy/ said Mrs. Thornburgh, stepping 
in and undoing all the various safety-pins and elastics 
which had held her dress high above the mud. 'Are 
the girls out?' 

'Yes, Catherine and Agnes are at the school; and 
Rose, I think, is practising/ 

'Ah, well/ said Mrs. Thornburgh, settling herself 
in a chair close by her friend, 'I wanted to find you 

Her face, framed in bushy curls and an old garden 
bonnet, was flushed and serious. Her mittened hands 
were clasped nervously on her lap, and there was about 
her such an air of forcibly restrained excitement that 
Mrs. Leyburn's mild eyes gazed at her with some as- 
tonishment. The two women were a curious contrast : 
Mrs. Thornburgh short, inclined, as we know, to be 
stout, ample and abounding in all things, whether it 
were curls or cap-strings or conversation; Mrs. Ley- 
burn tall and well proportioned, well dressed, with 
the same graceful ways and languid pretty manners 
as had first attracted her husband's attention thirty 
years before. She was fond of Mrs. Thornburgh, but 
there was something in the ebullient energies of the 
[ 222 ] 


vicar's wife which always gave her a sense of bustle 
and fatigue. 

'I am sure you will be sorry to hear/ began her 
visitor, 'that Mr. Elsmere is going/ 

'Going?' said Mrs. Leyburn, laying down her knit- 
ting. 'Why, I thought he was going to stay with you 
another ten days at least/ 

'So did I so did he/ said Mrs. Thornburgh, nod- 
ding, and then pausing with a most effective air of 
sudden gravity and 'recollection/ 

'Then why what's the matter?' asked Mrs. Ley- 
burn, wondering. 

Mrs. Thornburgh did not answer for a minute, and 
Mrs. Leyburn began to feel a little nervous, her visit- 
or's eyes were fixed upon her with so much meaning. 
Urged by a sudden impulse she bent forward ; so did 
Mrs. Thornburgh, and their two elderly heads nearly 

'The young man is in love!' said the vicar's wife in 
a stage-whisper, drawing back after a pause, to see the 
effect of her announcement. 

'Oh! with whom?' asked Mrs. Leyburn, her look 
brightening. She liked a love-affair as much as ever. 

Mrs. Thornburgh furtively looked round to see if 
the door was shut and all safe she felt herself a 
criminal, but the sense of guilt had an exhilarating 
rather than a depressing effect upon her. 

'Have you guessed nothing? have the girls told 
you anything?' 

'No!' said Mrs. Leyburn, her eyes opening wider 
and wider. She never guessed anything ; there was no 
need, with three daughters to think for her, and give 
[ 223 ] 


her the benefit of their young brains. 'No/ she said 
again. 'I can't imagine what you mean/ 

Mrs. Thornburgh felt a rush of inward contempt for 
so much obtuseness. 

'Well, then, he is in love with Catherine!' she said 
abruptly, laying her hand on Mrs. Leyburn's knee, 
and watching the effect. 

'With Catherine!' stammered Mrs. Leyburn; 'with 
Catherine ! ' 

The idea was amazing to her. She took up her 
knitting with trembling fingers, and went on with it 
mechanically a second or two. Then laying it down 
'Are you quite sure? has he told you?' 

'No, but one has eyes/ said Mrs. Thornburgh hast- 
ily. 'William and I have seen it from the very first 
day. And we are both certain that on Tuesday she 
made him understand in some way or other that 
she would n't marry him, and that is why he went off 
to Ullswater, and why he made up his mind to go 
South before his time is up/ 

'Tuesday?' cried Mrs. Leyburn. 'In that walk, do 
you mean, when Catherine looked so tired afterwards? 
You think he proposed in that walk?' 

She was in a maze of bewilderment and excitement. 

'Something like it but if he did, she said "No" : 
and what I want to know is why she said "No/" 

'Why, of course, because she did n't care for him!' 
exclaimed Mrs. Leyburn, opening her blue eyes wider 
and wider. ' Catherine 's not like most girls ; she would 
always know what she felt, and would never keep a 
man in suspense/ 

'Well, I don't somehow believe/ said Mrs. Thorn- 


burgh boldly, 'that she does n't care for him. He is 
just the young man Catherine might care for. You 
can see that yourself/ 

Mrs. Leyburn once more laid down her knitting and 
stared at her visitor. Mrs. Thornburgh, after all her 
meditations, had no very precise idea as to why she 
was at that moment in the Burwood drawing-room 
bombarding Mrs. Leyburn in this fashion. All she 
knew was that she had sallied forth determined some- 
how to upset the situation, just as one gives a shake 
purposely to a bundle of spillikins on the chance of 
more favourable openings. Mrs. Leyburn's mind was 
just now playing the part of spillikins, and the vicar's 
wife was shaking it vigorously, though with occasional 
qualms as to the lawfulness of the process. 

'You think Catherine does care for him?' resumed 
Mrs. Leyburn tremulously. 

'Well, is n't he just the kind of man one would sup- 
pose Catherine would like?' repeated Mrs. Thornburgh 
persuasively; 'he is a clergyman, and she likes serious 
people; and he's sensible and nice and well-mannered. 
And then he can talk about books, just like her father 
used I'm sure William thinks he knows everything ! 
He is n't as nice-looking as he might be just now, but 
then that's his hair, and his fever, poor man. And 
then he is n't hanging about. He's got a living, and 
there 'd be the poor people all ready, and everything 
else Catherine likes. And now I '11 just ask you did 
you ever see Catherine more more lively well, 
I know that's not just the word, but you know what 
I mean than she has been the last fortnight?' 

But Mrs. Leyburn only shook her head helplessly. 
[ 225 ] 


She did not know in the least what Mrs. Thornburgh 
meant. She never thought Catherine doleful, and she 
agreed that certainly 'lively' was not the word. 

'Girls get so frightfully particular nowadays/ con- 
tinued the vicar's wife, with reflective candour. ' Why, 
when William fell in love with me, I just fell in love 
with him at once because he did. And if it 
had n't been William, but somebody else, it would 
have been the same. I don't believe girls have got 
hearts like pebbles if the man 's nice, of course ! ' 

Mrs. Leyburn listened to this summary of matri- 
monial philosophy with the same yielding flurried 
attention as she was always disposed to give to the last 

'But,' she said, still in a maze, 'if she did care for 
him, why should she send him away?' 

'Because she won't have him!' said Mrs. Thornburgh 
energetically, leaning over the arm of her chair that 
she might bring herself nearer to her companion. 

The fatuity of the answer left Mrs. Leyburn staring. 

'Because she won't have him, my dear Mrs. Ley- 
burn ! And and I 'm sure nothing would make 
me interfere like this if I were n't so fond of you all, 
and if William and I did n't know for certain that 
there never was a better young man born ! And then 
I was just sure you'd be the last person in the world, 
if you knew, to stand in young people's way ! ' 

' / / ' cried poor Mrs. Leyburn ' I stand in the way !' 
She was getting tremulous and tearful, and Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh felt herself a brute. 

'Well,' she said, plunging on desperately, 'I have 
been thinking over it night and day. I've been watch - 
[ 226 ] 


ing him, and I ' ve been talking to the girls, and I Ve 
been putting two and two together, and I 'm just about 
sure that there might be a chance for Robert, if only 
Catherine did n't feel that you and the girls could n't 
get on without her ! ' 

Mrs. Leyburn took up her knitting again with agi- 
tated fingers. She was so long in answering that Mrs. 
Thornburgh sat and thought with trepidation of all 
sorts of unpleasant consequences which might result 
from this audacious move of hers. 

' I don't know how we should get on/ cried Mrs. Ley- 
burn at last, with a sort of suppressed sob, while some- 
thing very like a tear fell on the stocking she held. 

Mrs. Thornburgh was still more frightened, and 
rushed into a flood of apologetic speech. Very likely 
she was wrong, perhaps it was all a mistake, she was 
afraid she had done harm, and so on. Mrs. Leyburn 
took very little heed, but at last she said, looking up 
and applying a soft handkerchief gently to her eyes - 

'Is his mother nice? Where's his living? Would he 
want to be married soon?' 

The voice was weak and tearful, but there was in it 
unmistakeable eagerness to be informed. Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh, overjoyed, let loose upon her a flood of particu- 
lars, painted the virtues and talents of Mrs. Elsmere, 
described Robert's Oxford career, with an admirable 
sense for effect, and a truly feminine capacity for 
murdering every university detail, drew pictures of 
the Murewell living and rectory, of which Robert had 
photographs with him, threw in adroit information 
about the young man's private means, and in general 
showed what may be made of a woman's mind under 
[ 227 ] 


the stimulus of one of the occupations most proper to 
it. Mrs. Leyburn brightened visibly as the flood pro- 
ceeded. Alas, poor Catherine ! How little room there 
is for the heroic in this trivial everyday life of ours! 

Catherine a bride, Catherine a wife and mother, 
dim visions of a white soft morsel in which Catherine's 
eyes and smile should live again all these thoughts 
went trembling and flashing through Mrs. Leyburn 's 
mind as she listened to Mrs. Thornburgh. There is so 
much of the artist in the maternal mind, of the artist 
who longs to see the work of his hand in fresh combina- 
tions and under all points of view. Catherine, in the 
heat of her own self-surrender, had perhaps forgotten 
that her mother too had a heart ! 

'Yes, it all sounds very well/ said Mrs. Leyburn at 
last, sighing, 'but, you know, Catherine is n't easy to 

'Could you talk to her find out a little?' 

'Well, not to-day; I shall hardly see her. Does n't 
it seem to you that when a girl takes up notions like 
Catherine's, she has n't time for thinking about the 
young men? Why, she's as full of business all day 
long as an egg 's full of meat. Well, it was my poor 
Richard's doing it was his doing, bless him! I am 
not going to say anything against it. But it was dif- 
ferent once/ 

'Yes, I know/ said Mrs. Thornburgh thoughtfully. 
' One had plenty of time, when you and I were young, 
to sit at home and think what one was going to wear, 
and how one would look, and whether he had been 
paying attention to any one else ; and if he had, why ; 
and all that. And now the young women are so su- 
[ 228 ] 


perior. But the marrying has got to be done somehow 
all the same. What is she doing to-day?' 

'Oh, she'll be busy all to-day and to-morrow; I 
hardly expect to see her till Saturday/ 

Mrs. Thornburgh gave a start of dismay. 

'Why, what is the matter now?' she cried in her 
most aggrieved tones. 'My dear Mrs. Leyburn, one 
would think we had the cholera in the parish. Cath- 
erine just spoils the people/ 

'Don't you remember,' said Mrs. Leyburn, staring 
in her turn, and drawing herself up a little, ' that to- 
morrow is Midsummer Day, and that Mary Backhouse 
is as bad as she can be?' 

'Mary Backhouse! Why, I had forgotten all about 
her ! ' cried the vicar's wife, with sudden remorse. And 
she sat pensively eyeing the carpet a while. 

Then she got what particulars she could out of Mrs. 
Leyburn. Catherine, it appeared, was at this moment 
at High Ghyll, was not to return till late, and would be 
with the dying girl through the greater part of the 
following day, returning for an hpur or two's rest in 
the afternoon, and staying in the evening till the twi- 
light, in which the ghost always made her appearances, 
should have passed into night. 

Mrs. Thornburgh listened to it all, her contriving 
mind working the while at railway speed on the facts 
presented to her. 

'How do you get her home to-morrow night?' she 
asked, with sudden animation. 

' Oh, we send our man Richard at ten. He takes 
a lantern if it's dark.' 

Mrs. Thornburgh said no more. Her eyes and ges- 


tures were all alive again with energy and hope. She 
had given her shake to Mrs. Leyburn's mind. Much 
good might it do ! But, after all, she had the poorest 
opinion of the widow's capacities as an ally. 

She and her companion said a few more excited, 
affectionate, and apologetic things to one another, and 
then she departed. 

Both mother and knitting were found by Agnes half 
an hour later in a state of considerable confusion. But 
Mrs. Leyburn kept her own counsel, having resolved 
for once, with a timid and yet delicious excitement, to 
act as the head of the family. 

Meanwhile Mrs. Thornburgh was laying plans on her 
own account. 

'Ten o'clock moonlight/ said that contriving per- 
son to herself going home 'at least if the clouds hold 
up that'll do could n't be better/ 

To any person familiar with her character the signs 
of some unusual preoccupation were clear enough in 
Mrs. Leyburn during this Thursday evening. Catherine 
noticed them at once when she got back from High 
Ghyll about eight o'clock, and wondered first of all 
what was the matter ; and then, with more emphasis, 
why the trouble was not immediately communicated 
to her. It had never entered into her head to take her 
mother into her confidence with regard to Elsmere. 
Since she could remember, it had been an axiom in 
the family to spare the delicate nervous mother all the 
anxieties and perplexities of life. It was a system in 
which the subject of it had always acquiesced with 
perfect contentment, and Catherine had no qualms 
[ 230 ] 


about it. If there was good news, it was presented in 
its most sugared form to Mrs. Leyburn ; but the mo- 
ment any element of pain and difficulty cropped up in 
the common life, it was pounced upon and appropri- 
ated by Catherine, aided and abetted by the girls, 
and Mrs. Leyburn knew no more about it than an 
unweaned babe. 

So that Catherine was thinking at most of some mis- 
conduct of a Perth dyer with regard to her mother's 
best grey poplin, when one of the greatest surprises 
of her life burst upon her.' 

She was in Mrs. Ley burn's bedroom that night, 
helping to put away her mother's things, as her custom 
was. She had just taken off the widow's cap, caressing 
as she did so the brown hair underneath which was still 
soft and plentiful, when Mrs. Leyburn turned upon 
her. 'Catherine!' she said in an agitated voice, laying 
a thin hand on her daughter's arm. 'Oh, Catherine, 
I want to speak to you ! ' 

Catherine knelt lightly down by her mother's side, 
and put her arms round her waist. 

'Yes, mother darling,' she said, half-smiling. 

' Oh, Catherine ! if if you like Mr. Elsmere, 
don't mind don't think about us, dear. We can 
manage we can manage, dear ! ' 

The change that took place in Catherine Ley burn's 
face is indescribable. She rose instantly, her arms 
falling behind her, her beautiful brows drawn to- 
gether. Mrs. Leyburn looked up at her with a pathetic 
mixture of helplessness, alarm, entreaty. 

'Mother, who has been talking to you about Mr. 
Elsmere and me?' demanded Catherine. 
[ 231 ] 


'Oh, never mind, dear, never mind/ said the widow 
hastily ; ' I should have seen it myself oh, I know I 
should; but I'm a bad mother, Catherine!' And she 
caught her daughter's dress and drew her towards her. 
'Do you care for him?' 

Catherine did not answer. She knelt down again, 
and laid her head on her mother's hands. 

' I want nothing,' she said presently in a low voice of 
intense emotion ' I want nothing but you and the 
girls. You are my life, I ask for nothing more. I am 
abundantly content.' 

Mrs. Leyburn gazed down on her with infinite per- 
plexity. The brown hair, escaped from the cap, had 
fallen about her still pretty neck, a pink spot of ex- 
citement was on each gently-hollowed cheek; she 
looked almost younger than her pale daughter. 

'But he is very nice,' she said timidly. 'And he 
has a good living. Catherine, you ought to be a clergy- 
man's wife.' 

'I ought to be, and I am your daughter,' said Cath- 
erine, smiling a little with an unsteady lip, and kissing 
her hand. 

Mrs. Leyburn sighed and looked straight before her. 
Perhaps in imagination she saw the vicar's wife. ' I 
think I think,' she said, very seriously, 'I should 
like it!' 

Catherine straightened herself brusquely at that. It 
was as though she had felt a blow. 

'Mother!' she cried, with a stifled accent of pain, 
and yet still trying to smile, 'do you want to send me 

' No, no ! ' cried Mrs. Leyburn hastily. ' But if a nice 
[ 232 ] 


man wants you to marry him, Catherine? Your father 
would have liked him oh, I know your father would 
have liked him ! And his manners to me are so pretty, 
I should n't mind being his mother-in-law. And the 
girls have no brother, you know, dear. Your father 
was always so sorry about that/ 

She spoke with pleading agitation, her own tempting 
imaginations the pallor, the latent storm of Cath- 
erine's look exciting her more and more. 

Catherine was silent a moment, then she caught her 
mother's hand again. 

' Dear little mother dear, kind little mother ! You 
are an angel, you always are. But I think, if you'll 
keep me, I'll stay/ 

And she once more rested her head clingingly on 
Mrs. Leyburn's knee. 

'But do you do you love him, Catherine?' 

'I love you, mother, and the girls, and my life 

'Oh dear/ sighed Mrs. Leyburn, as though address- 
ing a third person, the tears in x her mild eyes, 'she 
won't, and she would like it, and so should I ! ' 

Catherine rose, stung beyond bearing. 

' And I count for nothing to you, mother ! ' her deep 
voice quivering. 'You could put me aside, you and 
the girls, and live as though I had never been ! ' 

'But you would be a great deal to us if you did 
marry, Catherine!' cried Mrs. Leyburn, almost with 
an accent of pettishness. 'People have to do without 
their daughters. There's Agnes I often think, as it 
is, you might let her do more. And if Rose were 
troublesome, why, you know it might be a good thing 
[ 233 ] 


a very good thing if there were a man to take 
her in hand!' 

'And you, mother, without me?' cried poor Cather- 
ine, choked. 

' Oh, I should come and see you/ said Mrs. Leyburn, 
brightening. 'They say it is such a nice house, Cath- 
erine, and such pretty country ; and I'm sure I should 
like his mother, though she is Irish ! ' 

It was the bitterest moment of Catherine Leyburn 's 
life. In it the heroic dream of years broke down. Nay, 
the shrivelling ironic touch of circumstance laid upon 
it made it look even in her own eyes almost ridiculous. 
What had she been living for, praying for, all these 
years? She threw herself down by the widow's side, her 
face working with a passion that terrified Mrs. Leyburn. 

'Oh, mother, say you would miss me say you 
would miss me if I went ! ' 

Then Mrs. Leyburn herself broke down, and the two 
women clung to each other, weeping. Catherine's sore 
heart was soothed a little by her mother's tears, and by 
the broken words of endearment that were lavished on 
her. But through it all she felt that the excited imag- 
inative desire in Mrs. Leyburn still persisted. It was 
the cheapening the vulgarising, so to speak, of her 
whole existence. 

In the course of their long embrace Mrs. Leyburn 
let fall various items of news that showed Catherine 
very plainly who had been at work upon her mother, 
and one of which startled her. 

' He comes back to-night, my dear and he goes 
on Saturday. Oh, and, Catherine, Mrs. Thornburgh 
says he does care so much. Poor young man!' 
[ 234 ] 


And Mrs. Leyburn looked up at her now standing 
daughter with eyes as woe-begone for Elsmere as for 

'Don't talk about it any more, mother/ Catherine 
implored. ' You won't sleep, and I shall be more wroth 
with Mrs. Thornburgh than I am already/ 

Mrs. Leyburn let herself be gradually soothed and 
coerced, and Catherine, with a last kiss to the delicate 
emaciated fingers, on which the worn wedding-ring 
lay slipping forward in itself a history left her 
at last to sleep. 

'And I don't know much more than when I began ! ' 
sighed the perplexed widow to herself. 'Oh, I wish 
Richard was here I do ! ' 

Catherine's night was a night of intense mental strug- 
gle. Her struggle was one with which the modern 
world has perhaps but scant sympathy. Instinctively 
we feel such things out of place in our easy indifferent 
generation. We think them more than half -unreal. 
We are so apt to take it for granted that the world 
has outgrown the religious thirst for sanctification, 
for a perfect moral consistency, as it has outgrown 
so many of the older complications of the sentiment 
of honour. And meanwhile half the tragedy of our 
time lies in this perpetual clashing of two estimates of 
life the estimate which is the offspring of the scien- 
tific spirit, and which is for ever making the visible 
world fairer and more desirable in mortal eyes; and 
the estimate of St. Augustine. 

As a matter of fact, owing to some travelling dif- 
ficulties, the vicar and Elsmere did not get home till 
[ 235 i] 


noon on Friday. Catherine knew nothing of either 
delay or arrival. Mrs. Ley burn watched her with anx- 
ious timidity, but she never mentioned Elsmere's 
name to any one on the Friday morning, and no one 
dared speak of him to her. She came home in the after- 
noon from the Backhouses' absorbed apparently in the 
state of the dying girl, took a couple of hours' rest, 
and hurried off again. She passed the vicarage with 
bent head, and never looked up. 

'She is gone!' said Rose to Agnes as she stood at 
the window looking after her sister's retreating figure. 
' It is all over ! They can't meet now. He will be off 
by nine to-morrow/ 

The girl spoke with a lump in her throat, and flung 
herself down by the window, moodily watching the 
dark form against the fells. Catherine's coldness 
seemed to make all life colder and more chilling to 
fling a hard denial in the face of the dearest claims of 

The stormy light of the afternoon was fading to- 
wards sunset. Catherine walked on fast towards the 
group of houses at the head of the valley, in one of 
which lived the two old carriers who had worked such 
havoc with Mrs. Thornburgh's housekeeping arrange- 
ments. She was tired, physically, but she was still more 
tired mentally. She had the bruised feeling of one who 
has been humiliated before the world and before her- 
self. Her self-respect was for the moment crushed, 
and the breach made in the wholeness of personal 
dignity had produced a strange slackness of nerve, 
extending both to body and mind. She had been con- 
victed, it seemed to her, in her own eyes, and in those 
[ 236 ] 


of her world, of an egregious overestimate of her own 
value. She walked with hung head like one ashamed, 
the overstrung religious sense deepening her discom- 
fiture at every step. How rich her life had always been 
in the conviction of usefulness nay, indispensable- 
ness! Her mother's persuasions had dashed it from 
her. And religious scruple, for her torment, showed 
her her past, transformed, alloyed with all sorts of per- 
sonal prides and cravings, which stood unmasked now 
in a white light. 

And he? Still near her for a few short hours ! Every 
pulse in her had thrilled as she had passed the house 
which sheltered him. But she will see him no more. 
And she is glad. If he had stayed on, he too would 
have discovered how cheaply they held her those 
dear ones of hers for whom she had lived till now ! And 
she might have weakly yielded to his pity what she 
had refused to his homage. The strong nature is half- 
tortured, half-soothed by the prospect of his going. 
Perhaps when he is gone she will recover something 
of that moral equilibrium which has been so shaken. 
At present she is a riddle to herself, invaded by a force 
she has no power to cope with, feeling the moral 
ground of years crumbling beneath her, and struggling 
feverishly for self-control. 

As she neared the head of the valley the wind be- 
came less tempestuous. The great wall of High Fell, 
towards which she was walking, seemed to shelter her 
from its worst violence. But the hurrying clouds, the 
gleams of lurid light which every now and then pene- 
trated into the valley from the west, across the dip 
leading to Shanmoor, the voice of the river answering 
[ 237 ] 


the voice of the wind, and the deep unbroken shadow 
that covered the group of houses and trees towards 
which she was walking, all served to heighten the nerv- 
ous depression which had taken hold of her. As she 
neared the bridge, however, leading to the little ham- 
let, beyond which northwards all was stony loneliness 
and desolation, and saw in front of her the grey stone 
house, backed by the sombre red of a great copper 
beech, and overhung by crags, she had perforce to take 
herself by both hands, try and realise her mission afresh, 
and the scene which lay before her. 

The Home of Mary Backhouse 


MARY BACKHOUSE, the girl whom Catherine had been 
visiting with regularity for many weeks, and whose 
frail life was this evening nearing a terrible and long- 
expected crisis, was the victim of a fate sordid and 
common enough, yet not without its elements of dark 
poetry. Some fifteen months before this Midsummer 
Day she had been the mistress of the lonely old house 
in which her father and uncle had passed their whole 
lives, in which she had been born, and in which, amid 
snowdrifts so deep that no doctor could reach them, 
her mother had passed away. She had been then 
strong and well-favoured, possessed of a certain mas- 
culine black-browed beauty, and of a temper which 
sometimes gave to it an edge and glow such as an 
artist of ambition might have been glad to .catch. At 
the bottom of all the outward sauvagerie, however, 
there was a heart, and strong wants, which only af- 
fection and companionship could satisfy and tame. 
Neither was to be found in sufficient measure within 
her home. Her father and she were on fairly good 
terms, and had for each other up to a certain point the 
natural instincts of kinship. On her uncle, whom she 
regarded as half-witted, she bestowed alternate toler- 
ance and jeers. She was, indeed, the only person whose 
remonstrances ever got under the wool with old Jim, 
and her sharp tongue had sometimes a cowing effect 
on his curious nonchalance which nothing else had. 



For the rest, they had no neighbours with whom the 
girl could fraternise, and Whinborough was too far off 
to provide any adequate food for her vague hunger 
after emotion and excitement. 

In this dangerous morbid state she fell a victim to 
the very coarse attractions of a young farmer in the 
neighbouring valley of Shanmoor. He was a brute 
with a handsome face, and a nature in which whatever 
grains of heart and conscience might have been inter- 
fused with the original composition had been long 
since swamped. Mary, who had recklessly flung her- 
self into his power on one or two occasions, from a 
mixture of motives, partly passion, partly jealousy, 
partly ennui, awoke one day to find herself ruined, 
and a grim future hung before her. She had realised 
her doom for the first time in its entirety on the Mid- 
summer Day preceding that we are now describing. On 
that day she had walked over to Shanmoor in a fever 
of dumb rage and despair, to claim from her betrayer 
the fulfilment of his promise of marriage. He had 
laughed at her, and she had fled home in the warm 
rainy dusk, a prey to all those torturing terrors which 
only a woman in extremis can know. And on her way 
back she had seen the ghost or 'bogle' of Deep Crag; 
the ghost had spoken to her, and she had reached home 
more dead than alive, having received what she at once 
recognised as her death-sentence. 

What had she seen? An effect of moonlight. mist - 
a shepherd boy bent on a practical joke a gleam of 
white waterfall among the darkening rocks? What 
had she heard? The evening greeting of a passer-by, 
wafted down to her from some higher path along the 
[ 240 ] 


fell? distant voices in the farm enclosures beneath her 
feet? or simply the eerie sounds of the mountain, those 
weird earth-whispers which haunt the lonely places 
of Nature? Who can tell? Nerves and brain were 
strained to their uttermost. The legend of the ghost 
of the girl who had thrown her baby and herself into 
the tarn under the frowning precipitous cliffs which 
marked the western end of High Fell, and who had 
since then walked the lonely road to Shanmoor every 
Midsummer Night, with her moaning child upon her 
arm had flashed into Mary's mind as she left the 
white-walled village of Shanmoor behind her, and 
climbed upward with her shame and her secret into 
the mists. To see the bogle was merely distressing and 
untoward ; to be spoken to by the phantom voice was 
death. No one so addressed could hope to survive the 
following Midsummer Day. Revolving these things in 
her mind, along with the terrible details of her own 
story, the exhausted girl had seen her vision, and, as 
she firmly believed, incurred her doom. 

A week later she had disappeared from home and 
from the neighbourhood. The darkest stories were 
afloat. She had taken some money with her, and all 
trace of her was lost. The father had a period of 
gloomy taciturnity, during which his principal relief 
was got out of jeering and girding at his elder brother ; 
the noodle's eyes wandered and glittered more; his 
shrunken frame seemed more shrunken as he sat 
dangling his spindle legs from the shaft of the carrier's 
cart ; his absence of mind was for a time more marked, 
and excused with less buoyancy and inventiveness 
than usual. But otherwise all went on as before. John 
[ 241 ] 


Backhouse took no step, and for nine months nothing 
was heard of his daughter. 

At last one cheerless March afternoon, Jim, coming 
back first from the Wednesday round with the cart, 
entered the farm kitchen, while John Backhouse was 
still wrangling at one of the other farmhouses of the 
hamlet about some disputed payment. The old man 
came in cold and weary, and the sight of the half- 
tended kitchen and neglected fire they paid a neigh- 
bour to do the housework, as far as the care of her own 
seven children would let her suddenly revived in 
his slippery mind the memory of his niece, who, with 
all her faults, had had the makings of a housewife, and 
for whom, in spite of her flouts and jeers, he had al- 
ways cherished a secret admiration. As he came in he 
noticed that the door to the left hand, leading into 
what Westmoreland folk call the 'house' or sitting- 
room of the farm, was open. The room had hardly 
been used since Mary's flight, and the few pieces of 
black oak and shining mahogany which adorned it 
had long ago fallen from their pristine polish. The 
geraniums and fuchsias with which she had filled the 
window all the summer before had died into dry 
blackened stalks ; and the dust lay heavy on the room, 
in spite of the well-meant but wholly ineffective efforts 
of the charwoman next door. The two old men had 
avoided the place for months past by common consent, 
and the door into it was hardly ever opened. 

Now, however, it stood ajar, and old Jim going up to 
shut it, and looking in, was struck dumb with aston- 
ishment. For there on a wooden rocking-chair, which 
had been her mother's favourite seat, sat Mary Back- 
[ 242 ] 


house, her feet on the curved brass fender, her eyes 
staring into the parlour grate. Her clothes, her face, 
her attitude of cowering chill and mortal fatigue, 
produced an impression which struck through the old 
man's dull senses, and made him tremble so that his 
hand dropped from the handle of the door. The slight 
sound roused Mary, and she turned towards him. She 
said nothing for a few seconds, her hollow black eyes 
fixed upon him ; then with a ghastly smile, and a voice 
so hoarse as to be scarcely audible 

'Weel, aa've coom back. Ye'd maybe not expect 

There was a sound behind on the cobbles outside 
the kitchen-door. 

'Yur feyther!' cried Jim between his teeth. 'Gang 
upstairs wi' ye/ And he pointed to a door in the wall 
concealing a staircase to the upper storey. 

She sprang up, looked at the door and at him irre- 
solutely, and then stayed where she was, gaunt, pale, 
fever-eyed, the wreck and ghost of her old self. 

The steps neared. There was a rough voice in the 
kitchen, a surprised exclamation, and her father had 
pushed past his brother into the room. 

John Backhouse no sooner saw his daughter than 
his dull weather-beaten face flamed into violence. 
With an oath he raised the heavy whip he held in his 
hand, and flung himself towards her. 

'Naw, ye '11 not du 'at!' cried Jim, throwing himself 
with all his feeble strength on to his brother's arm. 
John swore and struggled, but the old man stuck like 
a limpet. 

'You let 'un aleann,' said Mary, drawing her tat- 
[ 243 ] 


tered shawl over her breast. 'If he aims to kill me, 
aa '11 not say naa. But he needn't moider hisself! 
There's them abuve as ha' taken care o' that!' 

She sank again into her chair, as though her limbs 
could not support her, and her eyes closed in the utter 
indifference of a fatigue which had made even fear 

The father's arm dropped ; he stood there sullenly 
looking at her. Jim, thinking she had fainted, went 
up to her, took a glass of water out of which she had 
already been drinking from the mahogany table, and 
held it to her lips. She drank a little, and then with 
a desperate effort raised herself, and clutching the 
arm of the chair, faced her father. 

'Ye '11 not hev to wait lang. Doan't ye fash yersel. 
Maybe it ull comfort ye to knaw summat ! Lasst Mid- 
summer Day aa was on t' Shanmoor road, i' t' gloam- 
ing. An' aa saw theer t' bogle thee knaws, t' bogle 
o' Bleacliff Tarn; an' she turned hersel, an' she spoak 

She tittered the last words with a grim emphasis, 
dwelling on each, the whole life of the wasted face 
concentrated in the terrible black eyes, which gazed 
past the two figures within their immediate range into 
a vacancy peopled with horror. Then a. film came 
over them, the grip relaxed, and she fell back with a 
lurch of the rocking-chair in a dead swoon. 

With the help of the neighbour from next door, Jim 
got her upstairs into the room that had been hers. 
She awoke from her swoon only to fall into the torpid 
sleep of exhaustion, which lasted for twelve hours. 

'Keep her oot o' ma way,' said the father with an 
[ 244 ] 


oath to Jim, 'or aa'll not answer nayther for her nor 

She needed no telling. She soon crept downstairs 
again, and went to the task of house-cleaning. The 
two men lived in the kitchen as before; when they 
were at home she ate and sat in the parlour alone. 
Jim watched her as far as his dull brain was capable 
of watching, and he dimly understood that she was 
dying. Both men, indeed, felt a sort of superstitious 
awe of her, she was so changed, so unearthly. As for 
the story of the ghost, the old popular superstitions 
are almost dead in the Cumbrian Mountains, and 
the shrewd North-country peasant is in many places 
quite as scornfully ready to sacrifice his ghosts to the 
Time Spirit as any 'bold bad' haunter of scientific 
associations could wish him to be. But in a few of 
the remoter valleys they still linger, though beneath 
the surface. 

Either of the Backhouses, or Mary in her days of 
health, would have suffered many things rather than 
allow a stranger to suppose they, placed the smallest 
credence in the story of Bleacliff Tarn. But, all the 
same, the story which each had heard in childhood, 
on stormy nights perhaps, when the mountain-side was 
awful with the sounds of tempest, had grown up 
with them, had entered deep into the tissue of con- 
sciousness. In Mary's imagination the ideas and im- 
ages connected with it had now, under the stimulus 
of circumstance, become instinct with a living pur- 
suing terror. But they were present, though in a 
duller, blunter state, in the minds of her father and 
uncle; and as the weeks passed on, and the days 
[ 245 3 


lengthened towards midsummer, a sort of brooding 
horror seemed to settle on the house. 

Mary grew weaker and weaker; her cough kept Jim 
awake at nights ; once or twice when he went to help 
her with a piece of work which not even her extraor- 
dinary will could carry her through, her hand burnt 
him like a hot cinder. But she kept all other women 
out of the house by her mad, strange ways; and if 
her uncle showed any consciousness of her state, she 
turned upon him with her old temper, which had lost 
all its former stormy grace, and had become ghastly 
by the contrast it brought out between the tem- 
pestuous vindictive soul and the shaken weakness of 

A doctor would have discovered at once that what 
was wrong with her was phthisis, complicated with in- 
sanity ; and the insanity, instead of taking the hopeful 
optimistic tinge which is characteristic of the insanity 
of consumption, had rather assumed the colour of the 
events from which the disease itself had started. Cold, 
exposure, long-continued agony of mind and body - 
the madness intertwined with an illness which had 
such roots as these was naturally a madness of despair. 
One of its principal signs was the fixed idea as to Mid- 
summer Day. It never occurred to her as possible that 
her life should be prolonged beyond that limit. Every 
night, as she dragged herself up the steep little stair- 
case to her room, she checked off the day which had 
just passed from the days she had still to live. She 
had made all her arrangements; she had even sewed 
with her own hands, and that without any sense of 
special horror, but rather in the provident peasant 
[ 246 ] 


way, the dress in which she was to be carried to her 

At last one day, her father, coming unexpectedly 
into the yard, saw her carrying a heavy pail of water 
from the pump. Something stirred within him, and he 
went up to her and forcibly took it from her. Their 
looks met, and her poor mad eyes gazed intensely into 
his. As he moved forward towards the house she crept 
after him, passing him into the parlour, where she sank 
down breathless on the settle where she had been sleep- 
ing for the last few nights, rather than face climbing 
the stairs. For the first time he followed her, watching 
her gasping struggle for breath, in spite of her impa- 
tient motion to him to go. After a few seconds he left 
her, took his hat, went out, saddled his horse, and rode 
off to Whinborough. He got Dr. Baker to promise to 
come over on the morrow, and on his way back he 
called and requested to see Catherine Leyburn. He 
stammeringly asked her to come and visit his daughter 
who was ill and lonesome, and when she consented 
gladly he went on his way feeling a load off his mind. 
What he had just done had been due to an undefined 
but still vehement prompting of conscience. It did 
not make it any the less probable that the girl would 
die on or before Midsummer Day ; but, supposing her 
story were true, it absolved him from any charge 
of assistance to the designs of those grisly powers in 
whose clutch she was. 

When the doctor came next morning a change for 

the worse had taken place, and she was too feeble 

actively to resent his appearance. She lay there on 

the settle, every now and then making superhuman 

[ 247 ] 


efforts to get up, which generally ended in a swoon. 
She refused to take any medicine, she would hardly 
take any food, and to the doctor's questions she re- 
turned no answer whatever. In the same way, when 
Catherine came, she would be absolutely silent, looking 
at her with glittering, feverish eyes, but taking no 
notice at all, whether she read or talked, or simply sat 
quietly beside her. 

After the silent period, as the days went on, and 
Midsummer Day drew nearer, there supervened a 
period of intermittent delirium. In the evenings, 
especially when her temperature rose, she became 
talkative and incoherent, and Catherine would some- 
times tremble as she caught the sentences which, little 
by little, built up the girl's hidden tragedy before her 
eyes. London streets, London lights, London dark- 
ness, the agony of an endless wandering, the little 
clinging puny life, which could never be stilled or sat- 
isfied, biting cold, intolerable pain, the cheerless work- 
house order, and, finally, the arms without a burden, 
the breast without a child these were the sharp 
fragments of experience, so common, so terrible to 
the end of time, which rose on the troubled surface 
of Mary Backhouse's delirium, and smote the tender 
heart of the listener. 

Then in the mornings she would lie suspicious and 
silent, watching Catherine's face with the long gaze 
of exhaustion, as though trying to find out from it 
whether her secret had escaped her. The doctor, who 
had gathered the story of the 'bogle' from Catherine, 
to whom Jim had told it, briefly and reluctantly, and 
with an absolute reservation of his own views on the 
[ 248 ] 


matter, recommended that if possible they should try 
and deceive her as to the date of the day and month. 
Mere nervous excitement might, he thought, be 
enough to kill her when the actual day and hour 
came round. But all their attempts were useless. 
Nothing distracted the intense sleepless attention 
with which the darkened mind kept always in view 
that one absorbing expectation. Words fell from her 
at night which seemed to show that she expected a 
summons a voice along the fell, calling her spirit 
into the dark. And then would come the shriek, the 
struggle to get loose, the choked waking, the wander- 
ing, horror-stricken eyes, subsiding by degrees into the 
old silent watch. 

On the morning of the 23d, when Robert, sitting at 
his work, was looking at Burwood through the window 
in the flattering belief that Catherine was the captive 
of the weather, she had spent an hour or more with 
Mary Backhouse, and the austere influences of the visit 
had perhaps had more share than she knew in deter- 
mining her own mood that day. The world seemed such 
dross, the pretences of personal happiness so hollow 
and delusive, after such a sight! The girl lay dying 
fast, with a look of extraordinary attentiveness in her 
face, hearing every noise, every footfall, and, as it 
seemed to Catherine, in a mood of inward joy. She 
took, moreover, some notice of her visitor. As a 
rough tomboy of fourteen, she had shown Catherine, 
who had taught her in the school sometimes, and had 
especially won her regard on one occasion by a present 
of some article of dress, a good many uncouth signs 
of affection. On the morning in question Catherine 
[ 249 ] 


fancied she saw something of the old childish expres- 
sion once or twice. At any rate, there was no doubt 
her presence was soothing, as she read in her low vibrat- 
ing voice, or sat silently stroking the emaciated hand, 
raising it every now and then to her lips with a rush 
of that intense pitifulness which was to her the most 
natural of all moods. 

The doctor, whom she met there, said that this state 
of calm was very possibly only transitory. The night 
had been passed in a succession of paroxysms, and 
they were almost sure to return upon her, especially 
as he could get her to swallow none of the sedatives 
which might have carried her in unconsciousness past 
the fatal moment. She would have none of them ; he 
thought that she was determined to allow of no en- 
croachments on the troubled remnants of intelligence 
still left to her; so the only thing to be done was to 
wait and see the result. 'I will come to-morrow/ said 
Catherine briefly; 'for the day certainly, longer if 
necessary/ She had long ago established her claim to 
be treated seriously as a nurse, and Dr. Baker made no 
objection. '// she lives so long/ he said dubiously. 
' The Backhouses and Mrs. Irwin [the neighbour] shall 
be close at hand. I will come in the afternoon and try 
to get her to take an opiate ; but I can't give it her 
by force, and there is not the smallest chance of her 
consenting to it/ 

All through Catherine's own struggle and pain dur- 
ing these two days the image of the dying girl had lain 
at her heart. It served her as the crucifix serves the 
Romanist; as she pressed it into her thought, it re- 
covered from time to time the failing forces of the will. 
[ 250 ] 


Need life be empty because self was left unsatisfied? 
Now, as she neared the hamlet, the quality of her na- 
ture reasserted itself. The personal want tugging at 
her senses, the personal soreness, the cry of resentful 
love, were silenced. What place had they in the pre- 
sence of this lonely agony of death, this mystery, this 
opening beyond? The old heroic mood revived in her. 
Her step grew swifter, her carriage more erect, and as 
she entered the farm kitchen she felt herself once more 
ready in spirit for what lay before her. 

From the next room there came a succession of 
husky sibilant sounds, as though some one were whis- 
pering hurriedly and continuously. 

After her subdued greeting she looked inquiringly 
at Jim. 

'She's in a taaking way/ said Jim, who looked more 
attenuated and his face more like a pink-and- white 
parchment than ever. 'She's been knacking an' taak- 
ing a long while. She woan't know ye. Luke ye/ he 
continued, dropping his voice as he opened the 'house' 
door for her ; ' ef you want ayder pv oos, you jest call 
oot sharp ! Mrs. Irwin, she'll stay in wi' ye she's 
not afeeard!' 

The superstitious excitement which the looks and 
gestures of the old man expressed touched Catherine's 
imagination, and she entered the room with an inward 

Mary Backhouse lay raised high on her pillows, 
talking to herself or to imaginary other persons, with 
eyes wide open but vacant, and senses conscious of 
nothing but the dream world in which the mind was 
wandering. Catherine sat softly down beside her, un- 
[ 251 ] 


noticed, thankful for the chances of disease. If this 
delirium lasted till the ghost-hour the time of twi- 
light, that is to say, which would begin about half-past 
eight, and the duration of which would depend on the 
cloudiness of the evening was over, or, better still, 
till midnight were past, the strain on the girl's agonised 
senses might be relieved, and death come at last in 
softer, kinder guise. 

'Has she been long like this?' she asked softly of 
the neighbour who sat quietly knitting by the evening 

The woman looked up and thought. 

'Aye!' she said. 'Aa came in at tea-time, an' she's 
been maistly taakin' ivver sence ! ' 

The incoherent whisperings and restless move- 
ments, which obliged Catherine constantly to replace 
the coverings over the poor wasted and fevered body, 
went on for some time. Catherine noticed presently, 
with a little thrill, that the light was beginning to 
change. The weather was growing darker and storm- 
ier ; the wind shook the house in gusts ; and the farther 
shoulder of High Fell, seen in distorted outline through 
the casemented window, was almost hidden by the 
trailing rain-clouds. The mournful western light com- 
ing from behind the house struck the river here and 
there; almost everything else was grey and dark. A 
mountain-ash, just outside the window, brushed the 
panes every now and then ; and in the silence every 
surrounding sound the rare movements in the next 
room, the voices of quarrelling children round the door 
of a neighbouring house, the far-off barking of dogs 
made itself distinctly audible. 


Suddenly Catherine, sunk in painful reverie, noticed 
that the mutterings from the bed had ceased for some 
little time. She turned her chair, and was startled to 
find those weird eyes fixed with recognition on herself. 
There was a curious malign intensity, a curious tri- 
umph in them. 

' It must be eight o'clock/ said the gasping voice 
'eight o'clock'; and the tone became a whisper, as 
though the idea thus half-involuntarily revealed had 
been drawn jealously back into the strongholds of 

'Mary/ said Catherine, falling on her knees beside 
the bed, and taking one of the restless hands forcibly 
into her own, 'can't you put this thought away from 
you? We are not the playthings of evil spirits we 
are the children of God! We are in His hands. No 
evil thing can harm us against His will.' 

It was the first time for many days she had spoken 
openly of the thought which was in the mind of all, 
and her whole pleading soul was in her pale, beautiful 
face. There was no response in the sick girl's counten- 
ance, and again that look of triuihph, of sinister ex- 
ultation. They had tried to cheat her into sleeping, 
and living, and in spite of them, at the supreme mo- 
ment, every sense was awake and expectant. To what 
was the materialised peasant imagination looking for- 
ward? To an actual call, an actual following to the free 
mountain-side, the rush of the wind, the phantom 
figure floating on before her, bearing her into the heart 
of the storm? Dread was gone, pain was gone; there 
was only rapt excitement and fierce anticipation. 

'Mary/ said Catherine again, mistaking her mood 
[ 253 ] 


for one of tense defiance and despair, ' Mary, if I were 
to go out now and leave Mrs. Irwin with you, and if I 
were to go up all the way to the top of Shanmoss and 
back again, and if I could tell you there was nothing 
there, nothing ! if I were to stay out till the dark 
has come it will be here in' half an hour and you 
could be quite sure, when you saw me again, that there 
was nothing near you but the dear old hills, and the 
power of God, could you believe me and try and rest 
and sleep?' 

Mary looked at her intently. If Catherine could have 
seen clearly in the dim light she would have caught 
something of the cunning of madness slipping into the 
dying woman's expression. While she waited for the 
answer there was a noise in the kitchen outside, an 
opening of the outer door, and a voice. Catherine's 
heart stood still. She had to make a superhuman 
effort to keep her attention fixed on Mary. 

' Go ! ' said the hoarse whisper close beside her, and 
the girl lifted her wasted hand, and pushed her visitor 
from her. ' Go ! ' it repeated insistently, with a sort of 
wild beseeching; then, brokenly, the gasping breath 
interrupting, 'There's naw fear naw fear fur the 
likes o' you!' 

Catherine rose. 

'I'm not afraid,' she said gently, but her hand 
shook as she pushed her chair back; 'God is every- 
where, Mary.' 

She put on her hat and cloak, said something in Mrs. 

Irwin 's ear, and stooped to kiss the brow which to the 

shuddering sense under her will seemed already cold 

and moist with the sweats of death. Mary watched 

[ 254 ] 


her go ; Mrs. Irwin, with the air of one bewildered, 
drew her chair nearer to the settle ; and the light of the 
fire, shooting and dancing through the June twilight, 
threw such fantastic shadows over the face on the 
pillow that all expression was lost. What was moving 
in the crazed mind? Satisfaction, perhaps, at having 
got rid of one witness, one jailer, one of the various 
antagonistic forces surrounding her? She had a dim 
frenzied notion she should have to fight for her liberty 
when the call came, and she lay tense and rigid, wait- 
ing the images of insanity whirling through her 
brain, while the light slowly, slowly waned. 

Catherine opened the door into the kitchen. The 
two carriers were standing there, and Robert Elsmere 
also stood with his back to her, talking to them in an 

He turned at the sound behind him, and his start 
brought a sudden flush to Catherine's cheek. Her 
face, as the candle-light struck it amid the shadows 
of the doorway, was like an angelic vision to him 
the heavenly calm of it just exquisitely broken by 
the wonder, the shock, of his presence. 

'You here?' he cried, coming up to her, and taking 
her hand what secret instinct guided him? close 
in both of his. ' I never dreamt of it so late. My 
cousin sent me over she wished for news/ 

She smiled involuntarily. It seemed to her she had 
expected this in some sort all along. But her self- 
possession was complete. 

' The excited state may be over in a short time now/ 
she answered him in a quiet whisper; 'but at present 
it is at its height. It seemed to please her' --and 
[ 255 ] 


withdrawing her hand she turned to John Backhouse 
- 'when I suggested that I should walk 'up to Shan- 
moss and back. I said I would come back to her in 
half an hour or so, when the daylight was quite gone, 
and prove to her there was nothing on the path/ 

A hand caught her arm. It was Mrs. Irwin, holding 
the door close with the other hand. 

'Miss Leyburn Miss Catherine! Yur not gawin' 
oot not gawin' oop that path?' The woman was 
fond of Catherine, and looked deadly frightened. 

'Yes, I am, Mrs. Irwin but I shall be back very 
soon. Don't leave her; go back/ And Catherine 
motioned her back with a little peremptory gesture. 

'Doan't ye let 'ur, sir/ said the woman excitedly to 
Robert. 'One's eneuf, aa'm thinking/ And she 
pointed with a meaning gesture to the room behind 

Robert looked at Catherine, who was moving to- 
wards the outer door. 

'I'll go with her,' he said hastily, his face lighting 
up. 'There is nothing whatever to be afraid of, only 
don't leave your patient/ 

Catherine trembled as she heard the words, but she 
made no sign, and the two men and the woman 
watched their departure with blank uneasy wonder- 
ment. A second later they were on the fell-side climb- 
ing a rough stony path, which in places was almost 
a watercourse, and which wound up the fell towards a 
tract of level swampy moss or heath, beyond which lay 
the descent to Shanmoor. Daylight was almost gone ; 
the stormy yellow west was being fast swallowed up in 
cloud ; below them as they climbed lay the dark group 
[ 256 ] 


of houses, with a light twinkling here and there. All 
about them were black mountain forms; a desolate 
tempestuous wind drove a gusty rain into their faces ; 
a little beck roared beside them, and in the distance 
from the black gulf of the valley the swollen river 

Elsmere looked down on his companion with an 
indescribable exultation, a passionate sense of posses- 
sion which could hardly restrain itself. He had come 
back that morning with a mind clearly made up. 
Catherine had been blind indeed when she supposed 
that any plan of his or hers would have been allowed 
to stand in the way of that last wrestle with her, of 
which he had planned all the methods, rehearsed all 
the arguments. But when he reached the vicarage he 
was greeted with the news of her absence. She was 
inaccessible it appeared for the day. No matter ! The 
vicar and he settled in the fewest possible words that 
he should stay till Monday, Mrs. Thornburgh mean- 
while looking on, saying what civility demanded, and 
surprisingly little else. Then in the evening Mrs. 
Thornburgh had asked of him with a manner of ad- 
mirable indifference whether he felt inclined for an 
evening walk to High Ghyll to inquire after Mary 
Backhouse. The request fell in excellently with a 
lover's restlessness, and Robert assented at once. The 
vicar saw him go with puzzled brows and a quick look 
at his wife, whose head was bent close over her 
worsted work. 

It never occurred to Elsmere or if it did occur, 
he pooh-poohed the notion that he should find 
Catherine still at her post far from home on this dark 
[ 257 ] 


stormy evening. But in the glow of joy which her 
presence had brought him he was still capable of all 
sorts of delicate perceptions and reasonings. His quick 
imagination carried him through the scene from which 
she had just momentarily escaped. He had under- 
stood the exaltation of her look and tone. If love spoke 
at all, ringed with such surroundings, it must be with 
its most inward and spiritual voice, as those speak 
who feel 'the Eternities' about them. 

But the darkness hid her from him so well that he 
had to feel out the situation for himself. He could not 
trace it in her face. 

'We must go right up to the top of the pass/ she 
said to him as he held a gate open for her which led 
them into a piece of larch plantation on the mountain- 
side. 'The ghost is supposed to walk along this bit of 
road above the houses, till it reaches the heath on the 
top, and then it turns towards Bleacliff Tarn, which 
lies higher up to the right, under High Fell.' 

'Do you imagine your report will have any 

'At any rate,' she said, sighing, 'it seemed to me 
that it might divert her thoughts a little from the 
actual horror of her own summons. Anything is bet- 
ter than the torture of that one fixed idea as she lies 

'What is that?' said Robert, startled a little by 
some ghostly sounds in front of them. The little wood 
was almost dark, and he could see nothing. 

'Only a horse trotting on in front of us/ said Cath- 
erine; 'our voices frightened him, I suppose. We shall 
be out on the fell again directly.' 
[ 258 ] 


And as they quitted the trees, a dark bulky form to 
the left suddenly lifted a shadowy head from the grass, 
and clattered down the slope. 

A cluster of white-stemmed birches just ahead of 
them caught whatever light was still left in the at- 
mosphere, their feathery tops bending and swaying 
against the sky. 

'How easily, with mind attuned, one could people 
this whole path with ghosts ! ' said Robert. ' Look at 
those stems and that line of stream coming down to 
the right, and listen to the wind among the fern.' 

For they were passing a little gully deep in bracken, 
up which the blast was tearing its tempestuous way. 

Catherine shivered a little, and the sense of physical 
exhaustion, which had been banished like everything 
else doubt, humiliation, bitterness by the one fact 
of his presence, came back on her. 

'There is something rather awful in this dark and 
storm/ she said, and paused. 

'Would you have faced it alone?' he asked, his voice 
thrilling her with a hundred different meanings. ' I am 
glad I prevented it.' 

'I have no fear of the mountains/ she said, trem- 
bling. 'I know them, and they me/ 

' But you are tired your voice is tired and the 
walk might have been more of an effort than you 
thought it. Do you never think of yourself?' 

'Oh dear, yes/ said Catherine, trying to smile, and 
could find nothing else to say. They walked on a few 
moments in silence, splashes of rain breaking in their 
faces. Robert's inward excitement was growing fast. 
Suddenly Catherine's pulse stood still. She felt her 
[ 259 ] 


hand lifted, drawn within his arm, covered close with 
his warm trembling clasp. 

'Catherine, let it stay there. Listen one moment. 
You gave me a hard lesson yesterday, too hard I 
cannot learn it I am bold I claim you. Be my 
wife. Help me through this difficult world. I have 
loved you from the first moment. Come to me. Be 
kind to me/ 

She could hardly see his face, but she could feel the 
passion in his voice and touch. Her cheek seemed to 
droop against his arm. He felt her tottering. 

'Let me sit down/ she said; and after one moment 
of dizzy silence he guided her to a rock, sinking down 
himself beside her, longing, but not daring, to shelter 
her under his broad Inverness cloak against the storm. 

'I told you/ she said, almost whispering, 'that I 
was bound, tied to others/ 

' I do not admit your plea/ he said passionately ; 'no, 
not for a moment. For two days have I been tramping 
over the mountains thinking it out for yourself and 
me. Catherine, your mother has no son she should 
find one in me. I have no sisters give me yours. I 
will cherish them as any brother could. Come and 
enrich my life ; you shall still fill and shelter theirs. I 
dare not think what my future might be with you to 
guide, to inspire, to bless dare not, lest with a word 
you should plunge me into an outer darkness I cannot 

He caught her unresisting hand, and raised it to his 

'Is there no sacredness/ he said brokenly, 'in the 
fate that has brought us together out of all the 
[ 260 ] 


world here in this lonely valley? Come to me, 
Catherine. You shall never fail the old ties, I promise 
you ; and new hands shall cling to you new voices 
shall call you blessed/ 

Catherine could hardly breathe. Every word had 
been like balm upon a wound like a ray of intense 
light in the gloom about them. Oh, where was this 
softness bearing her this emptiness of all will, of all 
individual power? She hid her eyes with her other 
hand, struggling to recall that far-away moment in 
Marrisdale. But the mind refused to work. Conscious- 
ness seemed to retain nothing but the warm grasp of 
his hand the tones of his voice. 

He saw her struggle, and pressed on remorselessly. 

'Speak to me say one little kind word. Oh, you 
cannot send me away miserable and empty ! ' 

She turned to him, and laid her trembling free hand 
on his arm. He clasped them both with rapture. 

'Give me a little time.' 

'No, no/ he said, and it almost seemed to her that 
he was smiling : 'time for you to $scape me again, my 
wild mountain bird; time for you to think yourself 
and me into all sorts of moral mists ! No, you shall not 
have it. Here, alone with God and the dark bless 
me or undo me. Send me out to the work of life 
maimed and sorrowful, or send me out your knight, 
your possession, pledged ' 

But his voice failed him. What a note of youth, of 
imagination, of impulsive eagerness there was through 
it all! The more slowly-moving inarticulate nature 
was swept away by it. There was but one object clear 
to her in the whole world of thought or sense, every - 
[ 261 ] 


thing else had sunk out of sight drowned in a lum- 
inous mist. 

He rose and stood before her as he delivered his 
ultimatum, his tall form drawn up to its full height. 
In the east, across the valley, above the farther but- 
tress of High Fell, there was a clearer strip of sky, 
visible for a moment among the moving storm-clouds, 
and a dim haloed moon shone out in it. Far away 
a white-walled cottage glimmered against the fell ; the 
pools at their feet shone in the weird passing light. 

She lifted her head, and looked at him, still irre- 
solute. Then she too rose, and helplessly, like some 
one impelled by a will not her own, she silently held 
out to him two white trembling hands. 

'Catherine my angel my wife !' 

There was something in the pale virginal grace of 
look and form which kept his young passion in awe. 
But he bent his head again over* those yielding hands, 
kissing them with dizzy unspeakable joy. 

About twenty minutes later Catherine and Robert, 
having hurried back with all speed from the top of 
Shanmoss, reached the farmhouse door. She knocked. 
No one answered. She tried the lock ; it yielded, and 
they entered. No one in the kitchen. She looked dis- 
turbed and conscience-stricken. 

'Oh!' she cried to him, under her breath; 'have we 
been too long?' And hurrying into the inner room she 
left him waiting. 

Inside was a mournful sight. The two men and Mrs. 
Irwin stood close round the settle, but as she came 
nearer, Catherine saw Mary Backhouse lying panting 


on her pillows, her breath coming in loud gasps, her 
dress and all* the coverings of the bed showing signs of 
disorder and confusion, her black hair tossed about 

'It's bin awfu' work sence you left, miss/ whispered 
Mrs. Irwin to Catherine excitedly, as she joined them. 
'She thowt she heerd soombody fleythV and callin' 
it was t' wind came skirlin' round t' place, an' she aw' 
but thrown hirsel' oot o' t' bed, an' aa shooted for Jim, 
and they came, and they and I it's bin as much as 
we could a' du to hod 'er.' 

'Luke! Steady!' exclaimed Jim. 'She'll try it 

For the hands were moving restlessly from side to 
side, and the face was working again. There was one 
more desperate effort to rise, which the two men 
checked gently enough, but effectually and then 
the exhaustion seemed complete. The lids fell, and 
the struggle for breath was pitiful. 

Catherine flew for some drugs which the doctor had 
left, and shown her how to use. After some twenty 
minutes they seemed to give relief, and the great 
haunted eyes opened once more. 

Catherine held barley-water to the parched lips, 
and Mary drank mechanically, her gaze still intently 
fixed on her nurse. When Catherine put down the 
glass the eyes followed her with a question which 
the lips had no power to frame. 

' Leave her now a little,' said Catherine to the others. 
'The fewer people and the more air the better. And 
please let the door be open; the room is too hot.' 

They went out silently, and Catherine sank down 
[ 263 ] 


beside the bed. Her heart went out in unspeakable 
longing towards the poor human wreck before her. 
For her there was no morrow possible, no dawn of 
other and softer skies. All was over : life was lived, and 
all its heavenly capabilities missed for ever. Catherine 
felt her own joy hurt her, and her tears fell fast. 

' Mary/ she said, laying her face close beside the chill 
face on the pillow, ' Mary, I went out ; I climbed all the 
path as far as Shanmoss. There was nothing evil there. 
Oh, I must tell you! Can I make you understand? I 
want you to feel that it is only God and love that are 
real. Oh, think of them ! He would not let you be hurt 
and terrified in your pain, poor Mary. He loves you. 
He is waiting to comfort you to set you free from 
pain for ever ; and He has sent you a sign by me/ . . . 
She lifted her head from the pillow, trembling and 
hesitating. Still that feverish questioning gaze on the 
face beneath her, as it lay in deep shadow cast by a 
light on the window-sill some paces away. 

'You sent me out, Mary, to search for something, 
the thought of which has been tormenting and tor- 
turing you. You thought God would let a dark lost 
spirit trouble you and take you away from Him 
you, His child, whom He made and whom He loves ! 
And listen ! While you thought you were sending me 
out to face the evil thing, you were really my kind 
angel God's messenger sending me to meet the 
joy of my whole life ! 

'There was some one waiting here just now/ she 

went on hurriedly, breathing her sobbing words into 

Mary's ear. 'Some one who has loved me, and whom 

I love. But I had made him sad, and myself; then 

[ 264 ] 


when you sent me out he came too ; we walked up that 
path, you remember, beyond the larchwood, up to the 
top, where the stream goes under the road. And there 
he spoke to me, and I could n't help it any more. And 
I promised to love him and be his wife. And if it 
had n't been for you, Mary, it would never have hap- 
pened. God had put it into your hand, this joy, and 
I bless you for it! Oh, and Mary Mary it is only 
for a little little while, this life of ours ! Nothing mat- 
ters not our worst sin and sorrow but God, and 
our love to Him. I shall meet you some day I pray 
I may in His sight and all will be well, the pain all 
forgotten all!' 

She raised herself again and looked down with 
yearning passionate pity on the shadowed form. Oh, 
blessed answer of heart to heart! There were tears 
forming under the heavy lids, the corners of the 
lips were relaxed and soft. Slowly the feeble hand 
sought her own. She waited in an intense expectant 

There was a faint breathing from the lips; she 
stooped and caught it. 

'Kiss me!' said the whisper; and she laid her soft 
fresh lips to the parched mouth of the dying. When 
she lifted her head again Mary still held her hand; 
Catherine softly stretched out hers for the opiate Dr. 
Baker had left ; it was swallowed without resistance, 
and a quiet to which the invalid had been a stranger 
for days stole little by little over the wasted frame. 
The grasp of the fingers relaxed, the laboured breath 
came more gently, and in a few more minutes she slept. 
Twilight was long over. The ghost-hour was past, and 
[ 265 ] 


the moon outside was slowly gaining a wider empire 
in the clearing heavens. 

It was a little after ten o'clock when Rose drew 
aside the curtain at Burwood and looked out. 

'There is the lantern/ she said to Agnes, 'just by 
the vicarage. How the night -has cleared!' 

She turned back to her book. Agnes was writing 
letters. Mrs. Leyburn was sitting by the bit of fire that 
was generally lit for her benefit in the evenings, her 
white shawl dropping gracefully about her, a copy of 
the Cornhill on her lap. But she was not reading, she 
was meditating, and the girls thought her out of 
spirits. The hall-door opened. 

'There is some one with Catherine!' cried Rose, 
starting up. Agnes suspended her letter. 

'Perhaps the vicar/ said Mrs. Leyburn, with a little 

A hand turned the drawing-room door, and in the 
doorway stood Elsmere. Rose caught a grey dress 
disappearing up the little stairs behind him. 

Elsmere 's look was enough for the two girls. They 
understood in an instant. Rose flushed all over. The 
first contact with love is intoxicating to any girl of 
eighteen, even though the romance be not hers. But 
Mrs. Leyburn sat bewildered. 

Elsmere went up to her, stooped and took her 

'Will you give her to me, Mrs. Leyburn?' he said, 
his boyish looks aglow, his voice unsteady. 'Will you 
let me be a son to you?' 

Mrs. Leyburn rose. He still held her hand. She 
looked up at him helplessly. 

[ 266 ] 


'Oh, Mr. Elsmere, where is Catherine?' 

'I brought her home/ he said gently. 'She is mine, 
if you will it. Give her to me again ! ' 

Mrs. Leyburn's face worked pitifully. The rectory 
and the wedding-dress, which had lingered so regret- 
fully in her thoughts since her last sight of Catherine, 
sank out of them altogether. 

'She has been everything in the world to us, Mr. 

'I know she has/ he said simply. 'She shall be 
everything in the world to you still. I have had hard 
work to persuade her. There will be no chance for me 
if you don't help me.' 

Another breathless pause. Then Mrs. Leyburn 
timidly drew him to her, and he stooped his tall head 
and kissed her like a son. 

'Oh, I must go to Catherine!' she said, hurrying 
away, her pretty withered cheeks wet with tears. 

Then the girls threw themselves on Elsmere. The 
talk was all animation and excitement for the moment, 
not a tragic touch in it. It was as well perhaps that 
Catherine was not there to hear ! 

' I give you fair warning/ said Rose, as she bade him 
good-night, 'that I don't know how to behave to a 
brother. And I am equally sure that Mrs. Thornburgh 
does n't know how to behave to a fiance.' 

Robert threw up his arms in mock terror at the 
name, and departed. 

'We are abandoned/ cried Rose, flinging herself 
into the chair again then with a little flash of half- 
irresolute wickedness 'and we are free! Oh, I hope 
she will be happy ! ' 

[ 267 ] 


And she caught Agnes wildly round the neck as 
though she would drown her first words in her last. 

'Madcap!' cried Agnes, struggling. 'Leave me at 
least a little breath to wish Catherine joy ! ' 

And they both fled upstairs. 

There was indeed no prouder woman in the three 
kingdoms than Mrs. Thornburgh that night. After 
all the agitation downstairs she could not persuade 
herself to go to bed. She first knocked up Sarah and 
communicated the news; then she sat down before 
a pier-glass in her own room studying the person who 
had found Catherine Ley burn a husband. 

'My doing from beginning to end/ she cried with 
a triumph beyond words. 'William has had nothing 
to do with it. Robert has had scarcely as much. 
And to think how little I dreamt of it when I began. 
Well, to be sure, no one could have planned marry- 
ing those two. There's no one but Providence could 
have foreseen it they're so different. And after all 
it's done. Now then, whom shall I have next year?' 




FAREWELL to the mountains ! 

The scene in which the next act of this unpretending 
history is to run its course is of a very different kind. 
In place of the rugged Northern Nature a Nature 
wild and solitary indeed, but still rich, luxuriant, and 
friendly to the senses of the traveller, even in its lone- 
liest places. The heaths and woods of some districts 
of Surrey are scarcely more thickly peopled than the 
fells of Westmoreland; the walker may wander for 
miles, and still enjoy an untamed primitive earth, guilt- 
less of boundary or furrow, the undisturbed home of 
all that grows and flies, where the rabbits, the lizards, 
and the birds live their life as they please, either 
ignorant of intruding man or strangely little incom- 
moded by his neighbourhood. And yet there is nothing 
forbidding or austere in these wide solitudes. The 
patches of graceful birch-wood ; the miniature lakes 
nestling among them; the brakes of ling pink, 
faintly scented, a feast for every sense ; the stretches of 
purple heather, glowing into scarlet under the touch 
of the sun; the scattered farmhouses, so mellow in 
colour, so pleasant in outline ; the general softness and 
lavishness of the earth and all it bears, make these 
Surrey commons not a wilderness but a paradise. 
Nature, indeed, here is like some spoilt petulant child. 
She will bring forth nothing, or almost nothing, for 
man's grosser needs. Ask her to bear corn or pasture 


flocks, and she will be miserly and grudging. But ask 
her only to be beautiful, enticing, capriciously lovely, 
and she will throw herself into the task with all the 
abandonment, all the energy, that heart could wish. 

It is on the borders of one of the wilder districts of a 
county, which is throughout a strange mixture of sub- 
urbanism and the desert, that we next meet with 
Robert and Catherine Elsmere. The rectory of Mure- 
well occupied the highest point of a gentle swell of 
ground which sloped through cornfields and woods to 
a plain of boundless heather on the south, and climbed 
away on the north towards the long chalk ridge of the 
Hog's Back. It was a square white house pretending 
neither to beauty nor state, a little awkwardly and 
barely placed, with only a small stretch of grass and 
a low hedge between it and the road. A few tall firs 
climbing above the roof gave a little grace and clothing 
to its southern side, and behind it there was a garden 
sloping softly down towards the village at its foot a 
garden chiefly noticeable for its grass walks, the lux- 
uriance of the fruit-trees clinging to its old red walls, 
and the masses of pink-and -white phloxes which now 
in August gave it the floweriness and the gaiety of an 
Elizabethan song. Below in the hollow and to the 
right lay the picturesque medley of the village roofs 
and gables and chimneys, yellow-grey thatch, shining 
whitewash, and mellowed brick, making a bright 
patchwork among the softening trees, thin wreaths of 
blue smoke, like airy ribbons, tangled through it all. 
Rising over the rest was a house of some dignity. It 
had been an old manor-house, now it was half -ruinous 
and the village inn. Some generations back the squire 
[ 272 ] 

Murewell Rectory 


of the day had dismantled it, jealous that so big a 
house should exist in the same parish as the Hall, and 
the spoils of it had furnished the rectory ; so that the 
homely house was fitted inside with mahogany doors 
and carved cupboard fronts, in which Robert de- 
lighted, and in which even Catherine felt a proprietary 

Altogether a quiet, rural, English spot. If the house 
had no beauty, it commanded a world of loveliness. 
All around it north, south, and west there spread, 
as it were, a vast playground of heather and wood and 
grassy common, in which the few workaday patches 
of hedge and ploughed land seemed engulfed and lost. 
Close under the rectory windows, however, was a vast 
sloping cornfield, belonging to the glebe, the largest 
and fruitfullest of the neighbourhood. At the present 
moment it was just ready for the reaper the golden 
ears had clearly but a few more days or hours to ripple 
in the sun. It was bounded by a dark summer-scorched 
belt of wood, and beyond, over the distance, rose a blue 
pointed hill, which seemed to be there only to attract 
and make a centre for the sunsets. 

As compared with her Westmoreland life, the first 
twelve months of wifehood had been to Catherine 
Elsmere a time of rapid and changing experience. A 
few days out of their honeymoon had been spent at 
Oxford. It was a week before the opening of the Octo- 
ber term, but many of the senior members of the Uni- 
versity were already in residence, and the stagnation 
of the Long Vacation was over. Langham was up ; so 
was Mr. Grey, and many another old friend of Robert's. 
The bride and bridegroom were much feted in a quiet 
[ 273 ] 


way. They dined in many common rooms and burs- 
aries ; they were invited to many luncheons, whereat 
the superabundance of food and the length of time 
spent upon it made the Puritan Catherine uncomfort- 
able ; and Langham devoted himself to taking the wife 
through colleges and gardens, Schools and Bodleian, 
in most orthodox fashion, indemnifying himself after- 
wards for the sense of constraint her presence imposed 
upon him by a talk and a smoke with Robert. 

He could not understand the Elsmere marriage. 
That a creature so mobile, so sensitive, so susceptible 
as Elsmere should have fallen in love with this stately 
silent woman, with her very evident rigidities of 
thought and training, was only another illustration 
of the mysteries of matrimony. He could not get on 
with her, and after a while did not try to do so. 

There could be no doubt as' to Elsmere *s devotion. 
He was absorbed, wrapped up in her. 

'She has affected him/ thought the tutor, 'at a 
period of life when he is more struck by the difficulty 
of being morally strong than by the difficulty of being 
intellectually clear. The touch of religious genius in 
her braces him like the breath of an Alpine wind. One 
can see him expanding, glowing under it. Bien ! sooner 
he than I. To be fair, however, let me remember that 
she decidedly does not like me which may cut me 
off from Elsmere. However' and Langham sighed 
over his fire 'what have he and I to do with one an- 
other in the future? By all the laws of character some- 
thing untoward might come out of this marriage. But 
she will mould him, rather than he her. Besides, she 
will have children and that solves most things.' 
[ 274 ] 


Meanwhile, if Langham dissected the bride as he 
dissected most people, Robert, with that keen observa- 
tion which lay hidden somewhere under his careless 
boyish ways, noticed many points of change about 
his old friend. Langham seemed to him less human, 
more strange, than ever ; the points of contact between 
him and active life were lessening in number term by 
term. He lectured only so far as was absolutely neces- 
sary for the retention of his post, and he spoke with 
wholesale distaste of his pupils. He had set up a book 
on 'The Schools of Athens/ but when Robert saw the 
piles of disconnected notes already accumulated, he 
perfectly understood that the book was a mere blind, 
a screen, behind which a difficult fastidious nature 
trifled and procrastinated as it pleased. 

Again, when Elsmere was an undergraduate Lang- 
ham and Grey had been intimate. Now, Langham 's 
tone a propos of Grey's politics and Grey's dreams of 
Church Reform was as languidly sarcastic as it was 
with regard to most of the strenuous things of life. 
'Nothing particular is true/ his manner said, 'and all 
action is a degrading pis-oiler. Get through the day 
somehow, with as little harm to yourself and other 
people as may be; do your duty if you like it, but, 
for heaven's sake, don't cant about it to other people ! ' 

If the affinities of character count for much, Cath- 
erine and Henry Grey should certainly have under- 
stood each other. The tutor liked the look of Elsmere 's 
wife. His kindly brown eyes rested on her with pleas- 
ure ; he tried in his shy but friendly way to get at her, 
and there was in both of them a touch of homeliness, 
a sheer power of unworldliness that should have drawn 
[ 275 ] 


them together. And indeed Catherine felt the charm, 
the spell of this born leader of men. But she watched 
him with a sort of troubled admiration, puzzled, evi- 
dently, by the halo of moral dignity surrounding him, 
which contended with something else in her mind 
respecting him. Some words of Robert's, uttered very 
early in their acquaintance, had set her on her guard. 
Speaking of religion, Robert had said, ' Grey is not one 
of us' ; and Catherine, restrained by a hundred ties of 
training and temperament, would not surrender her- 
self, and could not if she would. 

Then had followed their home-coming to the rectory, 
and that first institution of their common life, never to 
be forgotten for the tenderness and the sacredness of it. 
Mrs. Elsmere had received them, and had then retired 
to a little cottage of her own close by. She had of 
course already made the acquaintance of her daughter- 
in-law, for she had been the Thornburghs' guest for 
ten days before the marriage in September, and Cath- 
erine, moreover, had paid her a short visit earlier in 
the summer. But it was now that for the first time she 
realised to the full the character of the woman Robert 
had married. Catherine's manner to her was sweetness 
itself. Parted from her own mother as she was, the 
younger woman's strong filial instincts spent them- 
selves in tending the mother who had been the guard- 
ian and life of Robert's youth. And Mrs. Elsmere in 
return was awed by Catherine's moral force and purity 
of nature, and proud of her personal beauty, which 
was so real, in spite of the severity of the type, and to 
which marriage had given, at any rate for the moment, 
a certain added softness and brilliancy. 
[ 276 ] 


But there were difficulties in the way. Catherine 
was a little too apt to treat Mrs. Elsmere as she would 
have treated her own mother. But to be nursed and 
protected, to be screened from draughts, and run after 
with shawls and stools was something wholly new and 
intolerable to Mrs. Elsmere. She could not away with 
it, and as soon as she had sufficiently lost her first awe 
of her daughter-in-law she would revenge herself in all 
sorts of droll ways, and with occasional flashes of petu- 
lant Irish wit which would make Catherine colour and 
draw back. Then Mrs. Elsmere, touched with remorse, 
would catch her by the neck and give her a resounding 
kiss, which perhaps puzzled Catherine no less than her 
sarcasm of a minute before. 

Moreover Mrs. Elsmere felt ruefully from the first 
that her new daughter was decidedly deficient in the 
sense of humour. 

'I believe it's that father of hers/ she would say to 
herself crossly. ' By what Robert tells me of him he 
must have been one of the people who get ill in their 
minds for want of a good mouth-filling laugh now and 
then. The man who can't amuse himself a bit out of 
the world is sure to get his head addled somehow, 
poor creature.' 

Certainly it needed a faculty of laughter to be al- 
ways able to take Mrs. Elsmere on the right side. For 
instance, Catherine was more often scandalised than 
impressed by her mother-in-law's charitable perform- 

Mrs. Elsmere 's little cottage was filled with work- 
house orphans sent to her' from different London dis- 
tricts. The training of these girls was the chief business 
[ 277 ] 


of her life, and a very odd training it was, conducted 
in the noisiest way and on the most familiar terms. It 
was undeniable that the girls generally did well, and 
they invariably adored Mrs. Elsmere, but Catherine 
did not much like to think about them. Their house- 
hold teaching under Mrs. Elsmere and her old servant 
Martha as great an original as herself was so ir- 
regular, their religious training so extraordinary, the 
clothes in which they were allowed to disport them- 
selves so scandalous to the sober taste of the rec- 
tor's wife, that Catherine involuntarily regarded the 
little cottage on the hill as a spot of misrule in the 
general order of the parish. She would go in, say, at 
eleven o'clock in the morning, find her mother-in-law 
in bed, half-dressed, with all her handmaidens about 
her, giving her orders, reading her letters and the news- 
paper, cutting out her girls' frocks, instructing them 
in the fashions, or delivering little homilies on ques- 
tions suggested by the news of the day to the more 
intelligent of them. The room, the whole house, 
would seem to Catherine in a detestable litter. If so, 
Mrs. Elsmere never apologised for it. On the contrary, 
as she saw Catherine sweep a mass of miscellaneous 
debris off a chair in search of a seat, the small bright 
eyes would twinkle with something that was certainly 
nearer amusement than shame. 

And in a hundred other ways Mrs. Elsmere's rela- 
tions with the poor of the parish often made Cath- 
erine miserable. She herself had the most angelic pity 
and tenderness for sorrows and sinners; but sin was 
sin to her, and when she saw Mrs. Elsmere more than 
half-attracted by the stronger vices, and in many cases 
[ 278 ] 


more inclined to laugh with what was human in them 
than to weep over what was vile, Robert's wife would 
go away and wrestle with herself, that she might be 
betrayed into nothing harsh towards Robert's mother. 

But fate allowed their differences, whether they 
were deep or shallow, no time to develop. A week of 
bitter cold at the beginning of January struck down 
Mrs. Elsmere, whose strange ways of living were more 
the result of certain long-standing delicacies of health 
than she had ever allowed any one to imagine. A few 
days of acute inflammation of the lungs, borne with 
a patience and heroism which showed the Irish char- 
acter at its finest a moment of agonised wrestling 
with that terror of death which had haunted the keen 
vivacious soul from its earliest consciousness, ending 
in a glow of spiritual victory and Robert found him- 
self motherless. He and Catherine had never left her 
since the beginning of the illness. In one of the inter- 
vals towards the end, when there was a faint power of 
speech, she drew Catherine's cheek down to her and 
kissed her. 

' God bless you ! ' the old woman's voice said, with 
a solemnity in it which Robert knew well, but which 
Catherine had never heard before. 'Be good to him, 
Catherine be always good to him ! ' 

And she lay looking from the husband to the wife 
with a certain wistfulness which pained Catherine, 
she knew not why. But she answered with tears and 
tender words, and at last the mother's face settled into 
a peace which death did but confirm. 

This great and unexpected loss, which had shaken 
to their depths all the feelings and affections of his 
[ 279 J 


youth, had thrown Elsmere more than ever on his 
wife. To him, made as it seemed for love and for en- 
joyment, grief was a novel and difficult burden. He 
felt with passionate gratitude that his wife helped him 
to bear it so that he came out from it not lessened but 
ennobled, that she preserved him from many a lapse of 
nervous weariness and irritation into which his tem- 
perament might easily have been betrayed. 

And how his very dependence had endeared him to 
Catherine ! That vibrating responsive quality in him, 
so easily mistaken for mere weakness, which made her 
so necessary to him there is nothing perhaps which 
wins more deeply upon a woman. For all the while it 
was balanced in a hundred ways by the illimitable 
respect which his character and his doings compelled 
from those about him. To be the strength, the inmost 
joy of a man who within the conditions of his life seems 
to you a hero at every turn there is no happiness 
more penetrating for a wife than this. 

On this August afternoon the Elsmeres were expect- 
ing visitors. Catherine had sent the pony-carriage 
to the station to meet Rose and Langham, who was to 
escort her from Waterloo. For various reasons, all 
characteristic, it was Rose's first visit to Catherine's 
new home. 

Now she had been for six weeks in London, and had 
been persuaded to come on to her sister, at the end of 
her stay. Catherine was looking forward to her coming 
with many tremors. The wild ambitious creature had 
been not one atom appeased by Manchester and its 
opportunities. She had gone back to Whindale in 
[ 280 ] 


April only to fall into more hopeless discontent than 
ever. 'She can hardly be civil to anybody/ Agnes 
wrote to Catherine. 'The cry now is all " London " or 
at least "Berlin," and she cannot imagine why papa 
should ever have wished to condemn us to such a 

Catherine grew pale with indignation as she read the 
words, and thought of her father's short-lived joy in 
the old house and its few green fields, or of the con- 
fidence which had soothed his last moments, that it 
would be well there with his wife and children, far 
from the hubbub of the world. 

But Rose and her whims were not facts which could 
be put aside. They would have to be grappled with, 
probably humoured. As Catherine strolled out into 
the garden, listening alternately for Robert and for 
the carriage, she told herself that it would be a difficult 
visit. And the presence of Mr, Langham would cer- 
tainly not diminish its difficulty. The mere thought 
of him set the wife's young form stiffening. A cold 
breath seemed to blow from Edward Langham, which 
chilled Catherine's whole being. Why was Robert so 
fond of him? 

But the more Langham cut himself off from the 
world, the more Robert clung to him in his wistful 
affectionate way. The more difficult their intercourse 
became, the more determined the younger man seemed 
to be to maintain it. Catherine imagined that he often 
scourged himself in secret for the fact that the grati- 
tude which had once flowed so readily had now be- 
come a matter of reflexion and resolution. 

'Why should we always expect to get pleasure from 
[ 281 ] 


our friends?' he had said to her once with vehemence. 
'It should be pleasure enough to love them.' And she 
knew very well of whom he was thinking. 

How late he was this afternoon. He must have been 
a long round. She had news for him of great interest. 
The lodge-keeper from the Hall had just looked in to 
tell the rector that the squire and his widowed sister 
were expected home in four days. 

But, interesting as the news was, Catherine's looks 
as she pondered it were certainly not looks of pleased 
expectation. Neither of them, indeed, had much 
cause to rejoice in the squire's advent. Since their 
arrival in the parish the splendid Jacobean Hall had 
been un tenanted. The squire, who was abroad with 
his sister at the time of their coming, had sent a civil 
note to the new rector on his settlement in the parish, 
naming some common Oxford acquaintances, and 
desiring him to make what use of the famous Mure- 
well Library he pleased. ' I hear of you as a friend to 
letters,' he wrote; 'do my books a service by using 
them.' The words were graceful enough. Robert had 
answered them warmly. He had also availed himself 
largely of the permission they had conveyed. We shall 
see presently that the squire, though absent, had al- 
ready made a deep impression on the young man's 

But unfortunately he came across the squire in two 
capacities. Mr. Wendover was not only the owner of 
Murewell, he was also the owner of the whole land 
of the parish, where, however, by a curious accident of 
inheritance, dating some generations back, and imply- 
ing some very remote connexion between the Wend- 
[ 282 ] 


over and Elsmere families, he was not the patron of 
the living. Now the more Elsmere studied him under 
this aspect, the deeper became his dismay. The estate 
was entirely in the hands of an agent who had managed 
it for some fifteen years, and of whose character the 
rector, before he had been two months in the parish, 
had formed the very poorest opinion. Robert, entering 
upon his duties with the ardour of the modern re- 
former, armed not only with charity but with science, 
found himself confronted by the opposition of a man 
who combined the shrewdness of an attorney with the 
callousness of a drunkard. It seemed incredible that 
a great landowner should commit his interests and the 
interests of hundreds of human beings to the hands of 
such a person. 

By and by, however, as the rector penetrated more 
deeply into the situation, he found his indignation 
transferring itself more and more from the man to the 
master. It became clear to him that in some respects 
Henslowe suited the squire admirably. It became also 
clear to him that the squire had taken pains for years 
to let it be known that he cared not one rap for any 
human being on his estate in any other capacity than 
as a rent-payer or wage-receiver. What! Live for 
thirty years in that great house, and never care 
whether your tenants and labourers lived Jike pigs 
or like men, whether the old people died of damp, or 
the children of diphtheria, which you might have 
prevented I Robert's brow grew dark over it. 

The click of an opening gate. Catherine shook off 
her dreaminess at once, and hurried along the path to 
meet her husband. In another moment Elsmere came 
[ 283 ] 



in sight, swinging along, a holly stick in his hand, his 
face aglow with health and exercise, and kindling at 
the sight of his wife. She hung on his arm, and, with 
his hand laid tenderly on hers, he asked her how she 
fared. She answered briefly, but with a little flush, 
her eyes raised to his. She was within a few weeks of 

Then they strolled along talking. He gave her an 
account of his afternoon, which, to judge from the 
worried expression which presently effaced the joy of 
their meeting, had been spent in some unsuccessful 
effort or other. They paused after a while, and stood 
looking over the plain before them to a spot beyond 
the nearer belt of woodland, where from a little hollow 
about three miles off there rose a cloud of bluish smoke. 

' He will do nothing ! ' cried Catherine, incredulous. 

'Nothing! It is the policy of the estate, apparently, 
to let the old and bad cottages fall to pieces. He sneers 
at one for supposing any landowner has money for 
"philanthropy" just now. If the people don't like 
the houses they can go. I told him I should appeal 
to the squire as soon as he came home.' 

'What did he say?' 

' He smiled, as much as to say, " Do as you like, and 
be a fool for your pains." How the squire can let that 
man tyrannise over the estate as he does, I cannot 
conceive. Oh, Catherine, I am full of qualms about 
the squire!' 

'So am I,' she said, with a little darkening of her 
clear look. ' Old Benham has just been in to say they 
are expected on Thursday.' 

Robert started. 'Are these our last days of peace?' 
[ 284 ] 


he said wistfully 'the last days of our honeymoon, 

She smiled at him with a little quiver of passionate 
feeling under the smile. 

'Can anything touch that? 7 she said under her 

' Do you know, 7 he said presently, his voice dropping, 
'that it is only a month to our wedding-day? Oh, my 
wife, have I kept my promise is the new life as rich 
as the old? 7 

She made no answer, except the dumb sweet answer 
that love writes on eyes and lips. Then a tremor passed 
over her. 

'Are we too happy? Can it be well be right? 7 

' Oh, let us take it like children ! 7 he cried, with a 
shiver, almost petulantly. 'There will be dark hours 
enough. It is so good to be happy. 7 

She leant her cheek fondly against his shoulder. To 
her life always meant self-restraint, self-repression, 
self-deadening, if need be. The Puritan distrust of 
personal joy as something dangerous and ensnaring 
was deep ingrained in her. It had no natural hold on 

They stood a moment hand in hand fronting the 
cornfield and the sun-filled west, while the afternoon 
breeze blew back the man's curly reddish hair, long 
since restored to all its natural abundance. 

Presently Robert broke into a broad smile. 

'What do you suppose Langham has been enter- 
taining Rose with on the way, Catherine? I would n 7 t 
miss her remarks to-night on the escort we provided 
her for a good deal. 7 

[ 285 ] 


Catherine said nothing, but her delicate eyebrows 
went up a little. Robert stooped and lightly kissed 

' You never performed a greater act of virtue even 
in your life, Mrs. Elsmere, than when you wrote Lang- 
ham that nice letter of invitation/ 

And then the young rector sighed, as many a boyish 
memory came crowding upon him. 

A sound of wheels ! Robert's long legs took him to 
the gate in a twinkling, and he flung it open just as 
Rose drove up in fine style, a thin dark man beside her. 

Rose lent her bright cheek to Catherine's kiss, and 
the two sisters walked up to the door together, while 
Robert and Langham loitered after them talking. 

' Oh, Catherine ! ' said Rose under her breath, as they 
got into the drawing-room, with a little theatrical ges- 
ture, 'why on earth did you inflict that man and me 
on each other for two mortal hours?' 

' Sh-sh ! ' said Catherine's lips, while her face gleamed 
with laughter. 

Rose sank flushed upon a chair, her eyes glancing 
up with a little furtive anger in them as the two gen- 
tlemen entered the room. 

'You found each other easily at Waterloo?' asked 

'Mr. Langham would never have found me/ said 
Rose drily ; ' but I pounced on him at last just, I 
believe, as he was beginning to cherish the hope of an 
empty carriage and the solitary enjoyment of his 
Saturday Review.' 

Langham smiled nervously. 'Miss Leyburn is too 
hard on a blind man/ he said, holding up his eye-glass 
[ 286 ] 


apologetically ; 'it was my eyes, not my will, that were 
at fault/ 

Rose's lip curled a little. 'And Robert/ she cried, 
bending forward as though something had just oc- 
curred to her, 'do tell me I vowed I would ask is 
Mr. Langham a Liberal or a Conservative? He does n't 
know ! ' 

Robert laughed, so did Langham. 

'Your sister/ he said, flushing, 'will have one so 
very precise in all one says/ 

He turned his handsome olive face towards her, an 
unwonted spark of animation lighting up his black 
eyes. It was evident that he felt himself persecuted, 
but it was not so evident whether he enjoyed the pro- 
cess or disliked it. 

'Oh dear, no! 'said Rose nonchalantly. 'Only I 
have just come from a house where everybody either 
loathes Mr. Gladstone or would die for him to-morrow. 
There was a girl of seven and a boy of nine who were 
always discussing "Coercion" in the corners of the 
schoolroom. So, of course, I have grown political too, 
and began to catechise Mr. Langham at once, and 
when he said "he did n't know," I felt I should like to 
set those children at him! They would soon put some 
principles into him ! ' 

'It is not generally lack of principle, Miss Rose/ 
said her brother-in-law, 'that turns a man a doubter 
in politics, but too much!' 

And while he spoke, his eyes resting on Langham, 

his smile broadened as he recalled all those instances 

in their Oxford past, when he had taken a humble 

share in one of the herculean efforts on the part of 

[ 287 ] 


Langham's friends, which were always necessary when- 
ever it was a question of screwing a vote out of him on 
any debated University question. 

' How dull it must be to have too much principle ! ' 
cried Rose. ' Like a mill choked with corn. No bread 
because the machine can't work ! ' 

'Defend* me from my friends!' cried Langham, 
roused. 'Elsmere, when did I give you a right to cari- 
cature me in this way? If I were interested/ he added, 
subsiding into his usual hesitating ineffectiveness, 'I 
suppose I should know my own mind.' 

And then, seizing the muffins, he stood presenting 
them to Rose as though in deprecation of any further 
personalities. Inside him there was a hot protest 
against an unreasonable young beauty whom he had 
done his miserable best to entertain for two long hours, 
and who in return had made him feel himself more of 
a fool than he had done for years. Since when had 
young women put on all these airs? In his young days 
they knew their place. 

Catherine meanwhile sat watching her sister. The 
child was more beautiful than ever, but in other outer 
respects the Rose of Long Whindale had undergone 
much transformation. The puffed sleeves, the aesthetic 
skirts, the naive adornments of bead and shell, the 
formless hat, which it pleased her to imagine 'after 
Gainsborough/ had all disappeared. She was clad in 
some soft fawn-coloured garment, cut very much in the 
fashion ; her hair was closely rolled and twisted about 
her lightly-balanced head ; everything about her was 
neat and fresh and tight-fitting. A year ago she had 
been a damsel from the 'Earthly Paradise'; now, so 
[ 288 ] 


far as an English girl can achieve it, she might have 
been a model for Tissot. In this phase, as in the other, 
there was a touch of extravagance. The girl was de- 
veloping fast, but had clearly not yet developed. The 
restlessness, the self-consciousness of Long Whindale 
were still there; but they spoke to the spectator in 
different ways. 

But in her anxious study of her sister Catherine did 
not forget her place of hostess. ' Did our man bring 
you through the park, Mr. Langham?' she asked him 

' Yes. What an exquisite old house ! ' he said, turning 
to her, and feeling through all his critical sense the 
difference between the gentle matronly dignity of 
the one sister and the young self-assertion of the 

'Ah/ said Robert, 'I kept that as a surprise! Did 
you ever see a more perfect place?' 

'What date?' 

'Early Tudor as to the oldest part. It was built 
by a relation of Bishop Fisher's ; then largely rebuilt 
under James I. Elizabeth stayed there twice. There 
is a trace of a visit of Sidney's. Waller was there, and 
left a copy of verses in the library. Evelyn laid out 
a great deal of the garden. Lord Clarendon wrote part 
of his History in the garden, et cetera, et cetera. The 
place is steeped in associations, and as beautiful as 
a dream to begin with.' 

'And the owner of all this is the author of " The 
Idols of the Market-place "? ' 

Robert nodded. 

' Did you ever meet him at Oxford ? I believe he was 
[ 289 ] 


there once or twice during my time, but I never saw 

'Yes/ said Langham, thinking. 'I met him at din- 
ner at the Vice-Chancellor's, now I remember. A 
bizarre and formidable person very difficult to 
talk to/ he added reflectively. 

Then as he looked up he caught a sarcastic twitch of 
Rose Ley burn's lip and understood it in a moment. 
Incontinently he forgot the squire and fell to asking 
himself what had possessed him on that luckless 
journey down. He had never seemed to himself more 
perverse, more unmanageable ; and for once his philo- 
sophy did not enable him to swallow the certainty that 
this slim flashing creature must have thought him 
a morbid idiot, with as much sangfroid as usual. 

Robert interrupted his reflexions by some Oxford 
question, and presently Catherine carried off Rose to 
her room. On their way they passed a door, beside 
which Catherine paused hesitating, and then with a 
bright flush on the face, which had such maternal calm 
in it already, she threw her arm round Rose and drew 
her in. It was a white empty room, smelling of the 
roses outside, and waiting in the e-vening stillness for 
the life that was to be. Rose looked at it all at the 
piles of tiny garments, the cradle, the pictures from 
Retsch's 'Song of the Bell/ which had been the com- 
panions of their own childhood, on the walls and 
something stirred in the girl's breast. 

'Catherine, I believe you have everything you 
want, or you soon will have ! ' she cried, almost with 
a kind of bitterness, laying her hands on her sister's 

[ 290 ] 


' Everything but worthiness ! ' said Catherine softly, 
a mist rising in her calm grey eyes. 'And you, 
Roschen,' she added wistfully, 'have you been get- 
ting a little more what you want?' 

'What's the good of asking?' said the girl, with a 
little shrug of impatience. ' As if creatures like me ever 
got what they want ! London has been good fun cer- 
tainly if one could get enough of it. Catherine, how 
long is that marvellous person going to stay?' and she 
pointed in the direction of Langham's room. 

'A week,' said Catherine, smiling at the girl's dis- 
dainful tone. 'I was afraid you did n't take to him.' 

'I never saw such a being before,' declared Rose 
'never! I thought I should never get a plain answer 
from him about anything. He was n't even quite cer- 
tain it was a fine day ! I wonder if you set fire to him 
whether he would be sure it hurt! A week, you say? 
Heigh ho ! what an age ! ' 

'Be kind to him,' said Catherine, discreetly veiling 
her own feelings, and caressing the curly golden head 
as they moved towards the door. 'He's a poor lone 
don, and he was so good to Robert ! ' 
. ' Excellent reason for you, Mrs. Elsmere,' said Rose, 
pouting; 'but- 

Her further remarks were cut short by the sound 
of the front-door bell. 

' Oh, I had forgotten Mr. Newcome ! ' cried Catherine, 
starting. ' Come down soon, Rose, and help us through. ' 

'Who is he?' inquired Rose sharply. 

'A High Church clergyman near here, whom Robert 
asked to tea this afternoon,' said Catherine, escaping. 

Rose took her hat off very leisurely. The prospect 
[ 291 ] 


downstairs did not seem to justify dispatch. She 
lingered and thought of 'Lohengrin and Albani,' of 
the crowd of artistic friends that had escorted her to 
Waterloo, of the way in which she had been applauded 
the night before, of the joys of playing Brahms with 
a long-haired pupil of Rubinstein's, who had dropped 
on one knee and kissed her hand at the end of it, etc. 
During the last six weeks the colours of 'this thread- 
bare world ' had been freshening before her in marvel- 
lous fashion. And now, as she stood looking out, the 
quiet fields opposite, the sight of a cow pushing its 
head through the hedge, the infinite sunset sky, the 
quiet of the house, filled her with a sudden depression. 
How dull it all seemed how wanting in the glow of 


MEANWHILE downstairs a curious little scene was 
passing, watched by Langham, who, in his usual anti- 
social way, had retreated into a corner of his own as 
soon as another visitor appeared. Beside Catherine 
sat a Ritualist clergyman in cassock and long cloak - 
a saint clearly, though perhaps, to judge from the 
slight restlessness of movement that seemed to quiver 
through him perpetually, an irritable one. But he had 
the saint's wasted unearthly look, the ascetic brow, 
high and narrow, the veins showing through the skin, 
and a personality as magnetic as it was strong. 

Catherine listened to the newcomer, and gave him 
his tea, with" an aloofness of manner which was not lost 
on Langham. 'She is the Thirty-nine Articles in the 
flesh ! ' he said to himself. ' For her there must neither 
be too much nor too little. How can Elsmere stand it ? ' 

Elsmere apparently was not perfectly happy. He 
sat balancing his long person over the arm of a chair 
listening to the recital of some of the High Church- 
man's parish troubles with a slight half -embarrassed 
smile. The vicar of Mottringham was always in trou- 
ble. The narrative he was pouring out took shape in 
Langham 's sarcastic sense as a sort of classical epic, 
with the High Churchman, as a new champion of 
Christendom, harassed on all sides by pagan parish- 
ioners, crass church-wardens, and treacherous bishops. 
Catherine's fine face grew more and more set, nay, dis- 
[ 293 ] 


dainful. Mr. Newcome was quite blind to it. Women 
never entered into his calculations except as sisters or 
as penitents. At a certain diocesan conference he had 
discovered a sympathetic fibre in the young rector of 
Murewell, which had been to the imperious persecuted 
zealot like water to the thirsty. He had come to-day, 
drawn by the same quality in Elsmere as had originally 
attracted Langham to the St. Anselm's undergraduate, 
and he sat pouring himself out with as much freedom 
as if all his companions had been as ready as he was to 
die for an alb, or to spend half their days in piously 
circumventing a bishop. 

But presently the conversation had slid, no one 
knew how, from Mottringham and its intrigues to 
London and its teeming East. Robert was leading, 
his eye now on the apostolic-looking priest, now on 
his wife. Mr. Newcome resisted, but Robert had his 
way. Then it came out that behind these battles of 
kites and crows at Mottringham, there lay an heroic 
period, when the pale ascetic had wrestled ten years 
with London poverty, leaving health and youth and 
nerves behind him in the melee. Robert dragged it out 
at last, that struggle, into open view, but with dif- 
ficulty. The Ritualist may glory in the discomfiture 
of an Erastian bishop what Christian dare parade 
ten years of love to God and man? And presently 
round Elsmere's lip there dawned a little smile of 
triumph. Catherine had shaken off her cold silence, 
her Puritan aloofness, was bending forward eagerly 
listening. Stroke by stroke, as the words and facts 
were beguiled from him, all that was futile and quar- 
relsome in the sharp-featured priest sank out of sight ; 
[ 294 ] 


the face glowed with inward light ; the stature of the 
man seemed to rise ; the angel in him unsheathed its 
wings. Suddenly a story of the slums that Mr. New- 
come was telling a story of the purest Christian 
heroism told in the simplest way came to an end, 
- and Catherine leaned towards him with a long quiver- 
ing breath. 

' Oh, thank you, thank you ! That must have been 
a joy, a privilege!' 

Mr. Newcome turned and looked at her with sur- 

'Yes, it was a privilege/ he said slowly the story 
had been an account of the rescue of a young country 
lad from a London den of thieves and profligates - 
'you are right; it was just that/ 

And then some sensitive inner fibre of the man was 
set vibrating, and he would talk no more of himself 
or his past, do what they would. 

So Robert had hastily to provide another subject, 
and he fell upon that of the squire. 

Mr. Newcomers eyes flashed. 

' He is coming back ? I am sorry for you, Elsmere. 
"Woe is me that I am constrained to dwell with 
Mesech, and to have my habitation among the tents 
of Kedar!"' 

And he fell back in his chair, his lips tightening, his 
thin long hand lying along the arm of it, answering 
to that general impression of combat, of the spiritual 
athlete, that hung about him. 

'I don't know/ said Robert brightly, as he leant 
against the mantelpiece looking curiously at his visitor. 
'The squire is a man of strong character, of vast learn- 
[ 295 ] 


ing. His library is one of the finest in England, and 
it is at my service. I am not concerned with his opin- 

'Ah, I see/ said Newcome, in his dryest voice, but 
sadly. 'You are one of the people who believe in what 
you call tolerance I remember/ 

'Yes, that is an impeachment to which I plead 
guilty/ said Robert, perhaps with equal dryness; 'and 
you have your worries driven you to throw toler- 
ance overboard?' 

Newcome bent forward quickly. Strange glow and 
intensity of the fanatical eyes strange beauty of the 
wasted persecuting lips ! 

'Tolerance!' he said with irritable vehemence 
'tolerance! Simply another name for betrayal, cow- 
ardice, desertion nothing else. God, Heaven, Salva- 
tion on the one side, the Devil and Hell on the other 
and one miserable life, one wretched sin-stained 
will, to win the battle with ; and in such a state of 
things you' he dropped his voice, throwing out 
every word with a scornful, sibilant emphasis - - 'you 
would have us behave as though our friends were 
our enemies and our enemies our friends, as though 
eternal misery were a bagatelle and our faith a mere 
alternative. I stand for Christ, and His foes are 

' By which I suppose you mean/ said Robert quietly, 
'that you would shut your door on the writer .of " The 
Idols of the Market-place "? ' 


And the priest rose, his whole attention concen- 
trated on Robert, as though some deeper-lying motive 
[ 296 ] 


were suddenly brought into play than any suggested 
by the conversation itself. 

1 Certainly. Judge not so long as a man has not 
judged himself only till then. As to an open enemy, 
the Christian's path is clear. We are but soldiers under 
orders. What business have we to be truce-making on 
our own account? The war is not ours, but God's!' 

Robert's eyes had kindled. He was about to indulge 
himself in such a quick passage of arms as all such 
natures as his delight in, when his look travelled past 
the gaunt figure of the Ritualist vicar to his wife. A 
sudden pang smote, silenced him. She was sitting 
with her face raised to Newcome; and her beautiful 
grey eyes were full of a secret passion of sympathy. 
It was like the sudden re-emergence of something re- 
pressed, the satisfaction of something hungry. Robert 
moved closer to her, and the colour flushed over all 
his young boyish face. 

'To me,' he said in a low voice, his eyes fixed rather 
on her than on Newcome, 'a clergyman has enough 
to do with those foes of Christ he cannot choose but 
recognise. There is no making truce with vice or 
cruelty. Why should we complicate our task and 
spend in needless struggle the energies we might give 
to love and to our brother?' 

His wife turned to him. There was trouble in her 
look, then a swift lovely dawn of something indescrib- 
able. Newcome moved away with a gesture that was 
half bitterness, half weariness. 

'Wait, my friend/ he said slowly, 'till you have 
watched that man's books eating the very heart out of 
a poor creature as I have. When you have once seen 
[ 297 ] 


Christ robbed of a soul that might have been His, by 
the infidel of genius, you will loathe all this Laodicean 
cant of tolerance as I do!' 

There was an awkward pause. Langham, with his 
eye-glass on, was carefully examining the make of a 
carved paper-knife lying near him. The strained pre- 
occupied mind of the High Churchman had never 
taken the smallest account of his presence, of which 
Robert had been keenly, not to say humorously, con- 
scious throughout. 

But after a minute or so the tutor got up, strolled 
forward, and addressed Robert on some Oxford topic 
of common interest. Newcome, in a kind of dream 
which seemed to have suddenly descended on him, 
stood near them, his priestly cloak falling in long folds 
about him, his ascetic face grave and rapt. Gradually, 
however, the talk of the two men dissipated the mys- 
tical cloud about him. He began to listen, to catch 
the savour of Langham's modes of speech, and of his 
languid indifferent personality. 

' I must go/ he said abruptly, after a minute or two, 
breaking in upon the friends' conversation. 'I shall 
hardly get home before dark.' 

He took a cold punctilious leave of Catherine, and 
a still colder and slighter leave of Langham. Elsmere 
accompanied him to the gate. 

On the way the older man suddenly caught him by 
the arm. 

' Elsmere, let me I am the elder by so many years 
let me speak to you. My heart goes out to you ! ' 

And the eagle face softened ; the harsh commanding 
presence became enveloping, magnetic. Robert paused 
[ 298 ] 


and looked down upon him, a quick light of foresight 
in his eye. He felt what was coming. 

And down it swept upon him, a hurricane of words 
hot from Newcome's inmost being, a protest winged 
by the gathered passion of years against certain 'dan- 
gerous tendencies' the elder priest discerned in the 
younger, against the worship of intellect and science 
as such which appeared in Elsmere's talk, in Elsmere's 
choice of friends. It was the eternal cry of the mystic 
of all ages. 

'Scholarship! learning!' Eyes and lips flashed into 
a vehement scorn. ' You allow them a value in them- 
selves, apart from the Christian's test. It is the modern 
canker, the modern curse! Thank God, my years in 
London burnt it out of me ! Oh, my friend, what have 
you and I to do with all these curious triflings, which 
lead men oftener to rebellion than to worship? Is this 
a time for wholesale trust, for a maudlin universal 
sympathy? Nay, rather a day of suspicion, a day of 
repression ! a time for trampling on the lusts of the 
mind no less than the lusts of the body, a time when 
it is better to believe than to know, to pray than to 
understand ! ' 

Robert was silent a moment, and they stood to- 
gether, Newcome's gaze of fiery appeal fixed upon him. 

'We are differently made, you and I,' said the 
young rector at last with difficulty. 'Where you see 
temptation I see opportunity. I cannot conceive of 
God as the Arch -plotter against His own creation ! ' 

Newcome dropped his hold abruptly. 

'A groundless optimism/ he said with harshness. 
' On the track of the soul from birth to death there are 
[ 299 ] 


two sleuth-hounds Sin and Satan. Mankind for 
ever flies them, is for ever vanquished and devoured. 
I see life always as a threadlike path between abysses 
along which man creeps' - - and his gesture illustrated 
the words ' with bleeding hands and feet towards 
one narrow solitary outlet. Woe to him if he 
turn to the right hand or the left "I will repay, 
saith the Lord! '" 

Elsmere drew himself up suddenly; the words 
seemed to him a blasphemy. Then something stayed 
the vehement answer on his lips. It was a sense of 
profound intolerable pity. What a maimed life ! what 
an indomitable soul ! Husbandhood, fatherhood, and 
all the sacred education that flows from human joy 
for ever self-forbidden, and this grim creed for recom- 
pense ! 

He caught Newcome's hand with a kind of filial 

'You are a perpetual lesson to me/ he said, most 
gently. 'When the world is too much with me, I think 
of you and am rebuked. God bless you ! But I know 
myself. If I could see life and God as you see them 
for one hour, I should cease to be a Christian in the 

A flush of something like sombre resentment passed 
over Newcome's face. There is a tyrannical element 
in all fanaticism, an element which makes opposition 
a torment. He turned abruptly away, and Robert was 
left alone. 

It was a still clear evening, rich in the languid soft- 
ness and balm which mark the first approaches of 
autumn. Elsmere walked back to the house, his head 
[ 300 ] 


uplifted to the sky which lay beyond the cornfield, his 
whole being wrought into a passionate protest a 
passionate invocation of all things beautiful and 
strong and free, a clinging to life and Nature as to 
something wronged and outraged. 

Suddenly his wife stood beside him. She had come 
down to warn him that it was late and that Langham 
had gone to dress ; but she stood lingering by his side 
after her message was given, and he made no move- 
ment to go in. He turned to her, the exaltation grad- 
ually dying out of his face, and at last he stooped and 
kissed her with a kind of timidity unlike him. She 
clasped both hands on his arm and stood pressing to- 
wards him as though to make amends for she knew 
not what. Something - some sharp momentary sense 
of difference, of antagonism, had hurt that inmost 
fibre which is the conscience of true passion. She did 
the most generous, the most ample penance for it as 
she stood there talking to him of half-indifferent 
things, but with a magic, a significance of eye and 
voice which seemed to take all the severity from her 
beauty and make her womanhood itself. 

At the evening meal Rose appeared in pale blue, 
and it seemed to Langham, fresh from the absolute 
seclusion of college rooms in vacation, that everything 
looked flat and stale beside her, beside the flash of her 
white arms, the gleam of her hair, the confident grace 
of every movement. He thought her much too self- 
conscious and self-satisfied ; and she certainly did not 
make herself agreeable to him; but for all that he 
could hardly take his eyes off her ; and it occurred to 
[ 301 ] 


him once or twice to envy Robert the easy childish 
friendliness she showed to him, and to him alone of 
the party. The lack of real sympathy between her and 
Catherine was evident to the stranger at once what, 
indeed, could the two have in common ? He saw that 
Catherine was constantly on the point of blaming, and 
Rose constantly on the point of rebelling. He caught 
the wrinkling of Catherine's brow as Rose presently, 
in emulation apparently of some acquaintances she 
had been making in London, let slip the names of some 
of her male friends without the 'Mr./ or launched into 
some bolder affectation than usual of a comprehensive 
knowledge of London society. The girl, in spite of all 
her beauty, and her fashion, and the little studied de- 
tails of her dress, was in reality so crude, so much of 
a child under it all, that it made her audacities and 
assumptions the more absurd, and he could see that 
Robert was vastly amused by them. 

But Langham was not merely amused by her. She 
was too beautiful and too full of character. 

It astonished him to find himself afterwards edging 
over to the corner where she sat with the rectory cat 
on her knee an inferior animal, but the best sub- 
stitute for Chattie available. So it was, however ; and 
once in her neighbourhood he made another serious 
effort to get her to talk to him. The Elsmeres had 
never seen him so conversational. He dropped his 
paradoxical melancholy; he roared as gently as any 
sucking dove ; and Robert, catching from the pessimist 
of St. Anselm's, as the evening went on, some hesitat- 
ing commonplaces worthy of a bashful undergraduate 
on the subject of the boats and Commemoration, had 
[ 302 ] 


to beat a hasty retreat, so greatly did the situation 
tickle his sense of humour. 

But the tutor made his various ventures under 
a discouraging sense of failure. What a capricious 
ambiguous creature it was, how fearless, how disagree- 
ably alive to all his own damaging peculiarities ! Never 
had he been so piqued for years, and as he floundered 
about trying to find some common ground where he 
and she might be at ease, he was conscious throughout 
of her mocking indifferent eyes, which seemed to be 
saying to him all the time, ' You are not interesting 
no, not a bit ! You are tiresome, and I see through you, 
but I must talk to you, I suppose, faute de mieux.' 

Long before the little party separated for the night 
Langham had given it up, and had betaken himself to 
Catherine, reminding himself with some sharpness 
that he had come down to study his friend's life, rather 
than the humours of a provoking girl. How still the 
summer night was round the isolated rectory; how 
fresh and spotless were all the appointments of the 
house ; what a Quaker neatness and refinement every- 
where ! He drank in the scent of air and flowers with 
which the rooms were filled ; for the first time his fas- 
tidious sense was pleasantly conscious of Catherine's 
grave beauty; and even the mystic ceremonies of 
family prayer had a certain charm for him, pagan as 
he was. How much dignity and persuasiveness it has 
still, he thought to himself, this commonplace country 
life of ours, on its best sides ! 

Half -past ten arriveU. Rose just let him touch her 
hand; Catherine gave him a quiet good-night, with 
various hospitable wishes for his nocturnal comfort, 
[ 303 ] 


and the ladies withdrew. He saw Robert open the 
door for his wife, and catch her thin white fingers 
as she passed him with all the secrecy and passion of 
a lover. 

Then they plunged into the study, he and Robert, 
and smoked their fill. The study was an astonishing 
medley. Books, natural history specimens, a half- 
written sermon, fishing-rods, cricket-bats, a huge 
medicine cupboard all the main elements of Els- 
mere's new existence were represented there. In the 
drawing-room with his wife and his sister-in-law he 
had been as much of a boy as ever ; here clearly he was 
a man, very much in earnest. What about? What did 
it all come to? Can the English country clergyman 
do much with his life and his energies? Langham 
approached the subject with his usual scepticism. 

Robert for a while, however, did not help him to 
solve it. He fell at once to talking about the squire, as 
though it cleared his mind to talk out his difficulties 
even to so ineffective a counsellor as Langham. Lang- 
ham, indeed, was but faintly interested in the squire's 
crimes as a landlord, but there was a certain interest 
to be got out of the struggle in Elsmere's mind between 
the attractiveness of the squire, as one of the most dif- 
ficult and original personalities of English letters, and 
that moral condemnation of him as a man of posses- 
sions and ordinary human responsibilities with which 
the young reforming rector was clearly penetrated. So 
that, as long as he could smoke under it, he was con- 
tent to let his companion describe to him Mr. Wend- 
over 's connexion with the property, his accession to 
it in middle life after a long residence in Germany, his 
[ 304 ] 


ineffectual attempts to play the English country gen- 
tleman, and his subsequent complete withdrawal from 
the life about him. 

'You have no idea what a queer sort of existence he 
lives in that huge place/ said Robert with energy. 
' He is not unpopular exactly with the poor down here. 
When they want to belabour anybody they lay on 
at the agent, Henslowe. On the whole, I have come to 
the conclusion the poor like a mystery. They never 
see him ; when he is here the park is shut up ; the com- 
mon report is that he walks at night; and he lives 
alone in that enormous house with his books. The 
county folk have all quarrelled with him, or nearly. 
It pleases him to get a few of the humbler people about, 
clergy, professional men, and so on, to dine with him 
sometimes. And he often fills the Hall, I am told, with 
London people for a day or two. But otherwise he 
knows no one, and nobody knows him.' 

'But you say he has a widowed sister? How does 
she relish the kind of life?' 

'Oh, by all accounts/ said the rector with a shrug,, 
'she is as little like other people as himself. A queer 
elfish little creature, they say, as fond of solitude down 
here as the squire, and full of hobbies. In her youth 
she was about the Court. Then she married a canon 
of Warham, one of the popular preachers, I believe, of 
the day. There is a bright little cousin of hers, a certain 
Lady Helen Varley, who lives near here, and tells me 
stories of her. She must be the most whimsical little 
aristocrat imaginable. She liked her husband appar- 
ently, but she never got over leaving London and the 
fashionable world, and is as hungry now, after her 
[ 305 ] 


long fast, for titles and big-wigs, as though she were 
the purest parvenu. The squire of course makes mock 
of her, and she has no influence with him. However, 
there is something naive in the stories they tell of her. 
I feel as if I might get on with her. But the squire ! ' 

And the rector, having laid down his pipe, took to 
studying his boots with a certain dolefulness. 

Langham, however, who always treated the subjects 
of conversation presented to him as an epicure treats 
foods, felt at this point that he had had enough of the 
Wendovers, and started something else. 

'So you physic bodies as well as minds?' he said, 
pointing to the medicine cupboard. 

'I should think so!' cried Robert, brightening at 
once. 'Last winter I causticked all the diphtheritic 
throats in the place with my own hand. Our parish 
doctor is an infirm old noodle, and I just had to do it. 
And if the state of part of the parish remains what it 
is, it's a pleasure I may promise myself most years. 
But it shan't remain what it is.' 

And the rector reached out his hand again for his 
pipe, and gave one or two energetic puffs to it as he 
surveyed his friend stretched before him in the depths 
of an armchair. 

'I will make myself a public nuisance, but the 
people shall have their drains ! ' 
j 'It seems to me,' said Langham, musing, 'that in 
my youth people talked about Ruskin ; now they talk 
about drains/ 

'And quite right, too. Dirt and drains, Catherine 
says I have gone mad upon them. It's all very well, 
but they are the foundations of a sound religion.' 
[ 306 ] 


' Dirt, drainSyjind Darwin/ said Langham meditat- 
ively, taking up Darwin's Earthworms/ which lay on 
the study- table beside him, side by side with a volume 
of Grant Allen's ' Sketches/ ' I did n't know you cared 
for this sort of thing!' 

Robert did not answer for a moment, and a faint 
flush stole into his face. ' Imagine, Langham ! ' he said 
presently, ' I had never read even the " Origin of Spe- 
cies" before I came here. We used to take the thing 
half for granted, I remember, at Oxford, in a more or 
less modified sense. But to drive the mind through all 
the details of the evidence, to force one's self to under- 
stand the whole hypothesis and the grounds for it, is 
a very different matter. It is a revelation/ 

'Yes/ said Langham; and could not forbear adding, 
'but it is a revelation, my friend, that has not always 
been held to square with other revelations/ 

In general these two kept carefully off the religious 
ground. The man who is religious by nature tends to 
keep his treasure hid from the man who is critical by 
nature, and Langham was much more interested in 
other things. But still it had always been understood 
that each was free to say what he would. 

'There was a natural panic/ said Robert, throwing 
back his head at the challenge. 'Men shrank and will 
always shrink, say what you will, from what seems to 
touch things dearer to them than life. But the panic 
is passing. The smoke is clearing away, and we see 
that the battle-field is falling into new lines. But the 
old truth remains the same. Where and when and how 
you will, but somewhen and somehow, God created 
the heavens and the earth ! ' 

[ 307 ] 


Langham said nothing. It had seemed to him for 
long that the clergy were becoming dangerously ready 
to throw the Old Testament overboard, and all that it 
appeared to him to imply was that men's logical sense 
is easily benumbed where their hearts are concerned. 

' Not that every one need be troubled with the new 
facts/ resumed Robert after a while, going back to his 
pipe. 'Why should they? We are not saved by Dar- 
winism. I should never press them on my wife, for 
instance, with all her clearness and courage of mind/ 

His voice altered as he mentioned his wife grew 
extraordinarily soft, even reverential. 

'It would distress her?' said Langham interroga- 
tively, and inwardly conscious of pursuing investiga- 
tions begun a year before. 

' Yes, it would distress her. She holds the old ideas 
as she was taught them. It is all beautiful to her, what 
may seem doubtful or grotesque to others. And why 
should I or any one else trouble her? I above all, who 
am not fit to tie her shoestrings/ 

The young husband's face seemed to gleam in the 
dim light which fell upon it. Langham involuntarily 
put up his hand in silence and touched his sleeve. 
Robert gave him a quiet friendly look, and the two 
men instantly plunged into some quite trivial and 
commonplace subject. 

Langham entered his room that night with a re- 
newed sense of pleasure in the country quiet, the 
peaceful flower-scented house. Catherine, who was an 
admirable housewife, had put out her best guest-sheets 
for his benefit, and the tutor, accustomed for long 
years to the second-best of college service, looked at 
[ 308 ] 


their shining surfaces and frilled edges, at the freshly 
matted floor, at the flowers on the dressing-table, at 
the spotlessness of everything in the room, with a 
distinct sense that matrimony had its advantages. 
He had come down to visit the Elsmeres, sustained by 
a considerable sense of virtue. He still loved Elsmere 
and cared to see him. It was a much colder love, no 
doubt, than that which he had given to the under- 
graduate. But the man altogether was a colder crea- 
ture, who for years had been drawing in tentacle 
after tentacle, and becoming more and more content 
to live without his kind. Robert's parsonage, however, 
and Robert's wife had no attractions for him ; and it 
was with an effort that he had made up his mind to 
accept the invitation which Catherine had made an 
effort to write. 

And, after all, the experience promised to be pleas- 
ant. His fastidious love for the quieter, subtler sorts 
of beauty was touched by the Elsmere surroundings. 
And whatever Miss Leyburn might be, she Was not 
commonplace. The demon of convention had no large 
part in her! Langham lay awake for a time analysing 
his impressions of her with some gusto, and meditating, 
with a whimsical candour which seldom failed him, on 
the manner in which she had trampled on him, and 
the reasons why. 

He woke up, however, in a totally different frame 
of mind. He was pre-eminently a person of moods, 
dependent, probably, as all moods are, on certain 
obscure physical variations. And his mental tempera- 
ture had run down in the night. The house, the people 
who had been fresh and interesting to him twelve 
[ 309 ] 



hours before, were now the burden he had more than 
half-expected them to be. He lay and thought of the 
unbroken solitude of his college rooms, of Senancour's' 
flight from human kind, of the uselessness of all friend- 
ship, the absurdity of all effort, and could hardly per- 
suade himself to get up and face a futile world, which 
had, moreover, the enormous disadvantage for the 
moment of being a new one. 

Convention, however, is master even of an Ober- 
mann. That prototype of all the disillusioned had 
to cut himself adrift from the society of the eagles 
on the Dent du Midi, to go and hang like any other 
ridiculous mortal on the Paris law-courts. Langham, 
whether he liked it or no, had to face the parsonic 
breakfast and the parsonic day. 

He had just finished dressing when the sound of a 
girl's voice drew him to the window, which was open. 
In the garden stood Rose, on the edge of the sunk 
fence dividing the rectory domain from the cornfield. 
She was stooping forward playing with Robert's Dan- 
die Dinmont. In one hand she held a mass of poppies, 
which showed a vivid scarlet against her blue dress ; 
the other was stretched out seductively to the dog 
leaping round her. A crystal buckle flashed at her 
waist; the sunshine caught the curls of auburn hair, 
the pink cheek, the white moving hand, the lace ruffles 
at her throat and wrist. The lithe glittering figure 
stood thrown out against the heavy woods behind, the 
gold of the cornfield, the blues of the distance. All 
the gaiety and colour which is as truly representative 
of autumn as the grey languor of a September mist 
had passed into it. 

[ 310 ] 


Langham stood and watched, hidden, as he thought, 
by the curtain, till a gust of wind shook the casement 
window beside him, and threatened to blow it in upon 
him. He put out his hand perforce to save it, and the 
slight noise caught Rose's ear. She looked up ; her 
smile vanished. 'Go down, Dandie/ she said severely, 
and walked quickly into the house with as much 
dignity as nineteen is capable of. 

At breakfast the Elsmeres found their guest a dif- 
ficulty. But they also, as we know, had expected it. 
He was languor itself; none of their conversational 
efforts succeeded ; and Rose, studying him out of the 
corners of her eyes, felt that it would be of no use 
even to torment so strange and impenetrable a being. 
Why on earth should people come and visit their 
friends if they could not keep up even the ordinary 
decent pretences of society? 

Robert had to go off to some clerical business after- 
wards, and Langham wandered out into the garden 
by himself. As he thought of his Greek texts and his 
untenanted Oxford rooms, he had the same sort of 
craving that an opium-eater has, cut off from his drugs. 
How was he to get through ? 

Presently he walked back into the study, secured 
an armful of volumes, and carried them out. True to 
himself in the smallest things, he could never in his 
life be content with the companionship of one book. 
To cut off the possibility of choice and change in any- 
thing whatever was repugnant to him. 

He sat himself down under the shade of a great 
chestnut near the house, and an hour glided pleasantly 
away. As it happened, however, he did not open one of 
[ 311 ] 


the books he had brought with him. A thought had 
struck him as he sat down, and he went groping in his 
pockets in search of a yellow-covered brochure, which, 
when found, proved to be a new play by Dumas, just 
about to be produced by a French company in London. 
Langham, whose passion for the French theatre sup- 
plied him, as we know, with a great deal of life without 
the trouble of living, was going to see it, and always 
made a point of reading the piece beforehand. 

The play turned upon a typical French situation, 
treated in a manner rather more French than usual. 
The reader shrugged his shoulders a good deal as he 
read on. 'Strange nation!' he muttered to himself 
after an act or two. ' How they do revel in mud ! ' 

Presently, just as the fifth act was beginning to get 
hold of him with that force which, after all, only a 
French playwright is master of, he looked up and saw 
the two sisters coming round the corner of the house 
from the great kitchen garden, which stretched its 
grass paths and tangled flower-masses down the fur- 
ther slope of the hill. The transition was sharp from 
Dumas's heated atmosphere of passion and crime to 
the quiet English rectory, its rural surroundings, and 
the figures of the two Englishwomen advancing to- 
wards him. 

Catherine was in a loose white dress with a black 
lace scarf draped about her head and form. Her look 
hardly suggested youth, and there was certainly no 
touch of age in it. Ripeness, maturity, serenity - 
these were the chief ideas which seemed to rise in the 
mind at sight of her. 

'Are you amusing yourself, Mr. Langham?' she 
[ 312 ] 


said, stopping beside him and retaining with slight 
imperceptible force Rose's hand, which threatened to 
slip away. 

' Very much. I have been skimming through a play, 
which I hope to see next week, by way of preparation/ 

Rose turned involuntarily. Not wishing to discuss 
' Marianne ' with either Catherine or her sister, Lang- 
ham had just closed the book and was returning it to 
his pocket. But she had caught sight of it. 

'You are reading "Marianne," ' she exclaimed, the 
slightest possible touch of wonder in her tone. 

'Yes, it is "Marianne,"' said Langham, surprised in 
his turn. He had very old-fashioned notions about the 
limits of a girl's acquaintance with the world, knowing 
nothing, therefore, as may be supposed, about the 
modern young woman, and he was a trifle scandalised 
by Rose's accent of knowledge. 

'I read it last week,' she said carelessly; 'and the 
Piersons' turning to her sister 'have promised 
to take me to see it next winter if Desforets comes 
again, as every one expects.' 

'Who wrote it?' asked Catherine innocently. The 
theatre not only gave her little pleasure, but wounded 
in her a hundred deep unconquerable instincts. But 
she had long ago given up in despair the hope of pro- 
testing against Rose's dramatic instincts with success. 

' Dumas fils,' said Langham drily. He was distinctly 
a good deal astonished. 

Rose looked at him, and something brought a sud- 
den flame into her cheek. 

'It is one of the best of his/ she said defiantly. 'I 
have read a good many others. Mrs. Pierson lent me 
F 313 1 


a volume. And when I was introduced to Madame 
Desforets last week, she agreed with me that "Mari- 
anne" is nearly the best of all.' 

All this, of course, with the delicate nose well in air. 

' You were introduced to Madame Desforets ? ' cried 
Langham, surprised this time quite out of discretion. 
Catherine looked at him with anxiety. The reputation 
of the black-eyed little French actress, who had been 
for a year or two the idol of the theatrical public of 
Paris and London, had reached even to her, and the 
tone of Langham's exclamation struck her painfully. 

'I was/ said Rose proudly. 'Other people may 
think it a disgrace. / thought it an honour ! ' 

Langham could not help smiling, the girl's naivete* 
was so evident. It was clear that, if she had read 
'Marianne/ she had never understood it. 

'Rose, you don't know!' exclaimed Catherine, turn- 
ing to her sister with a sudden trouble in her eyes. ' I 
don't think Mrs. Pierson ought to have done that, 
without consulting mamma especially.' 

'Why not?' cried Rose vehemently. Her face was 
burning, and her heart was full of something like 
hatred of Langham, but she tried hard to be calm. ' I 
think/ she said, with a desperate attempt at crush- 
ing dignity, 'that the way in which all sorts of stories 
are believed against a woman, just because she is an 
actress, is disgraceful! Just because a woman is on 
the stage, everybody thinks they may throw stones 
at her. I know, because because she told me/ cried 
the speaker, growing, however, half-embarrassed as 
she spoke, 'that she feels the things that are said of 
her deeply ! She has been ill, very ill, and one of her 
[ 314 ] 


friends said to me, "You know it is n't her work, or 
a cold, or anything else that 's made her ill it's 
calumny!" And so it is.' 

The speaker flashed an angry glance at Langham. 
She was sitting on the arm of the cane chair into which 
Catherine had fallen, one hand grasping the back of 
the chair for support, one pointed foot beating the 
ground restlessly in front of her, her small full mouth 
pursed indignantly, the greenish-grey eyes flashing 
and brilliant. 

As for Langham, the cynic within him was on the 
point of uncontrollable laughter. Madame Desforets 
complaining of calumny to this little Westmoreland 
maiden ! But his eyes involuntarily met Catherine's, 
and the expression of both fused into a common won- 
derment amused on his side, anxious on hers. 
'What a child, what an infant it is!' they seemed to 
confide to one another. Catherine laid her hand softly 
on Rose's, and was about to say something soothing, 
which might secure her an opening for some sisterly 
advice later on, when there was a sound of calling from 
the gate. She looked up and saw Robert waving to 
her. Evidently he had just run up from the school 
to deliver a message. She hurried across the drive to 
him and afterwards into the house, while he disap- 

Rose got up from her perch on the armchair and 
would have followed, but a movement of obstinacy or 
Quixotic wrath, or both, detained her. 

'At any rate, Mr. Langham,' she said, drawing her- 
self up, and speaking with the most lofty accent, 'if 
you don't know anything personally about Madame 
[ 315 ] 


Desforets, I think it would be much fairer to say no- 
thing and not to assume at once that all you hear is 

Langham had rarely felt more awkward than he did 
then, as he sat leaning forward under the tree, this 
slim indignant creature standing over him, and his 
consciousness about equally divided between a sense 
of her absurdity and a sense of her prettiness. 

'You are an advocate worth having, Miss Leyburn,' 
he said at last, an enigmatical smile he could not 
restrain playing about his mouth. ' I could not argue 
with you; I had better not try/ 

Rose looked at him, at his dark regular face, at the 
black eyes which were much vivider than usual, per- 
haps because they could not help reflecting some of 
the irrepressible memories of Madame Desforets and 
her causes celebres which were coursing through the 
brain behind them, and with a momentary impression 
of rawness, defeat, and yet involuntary attraction, 
which galled her intolerably, she turned away and left 

In the afternoon Robert was still unavailable, to his 
own great chagrin, and Langham summoned up all 
his resignation and walked with the ladies. The gen- 
eral impression left upon his mind by the performance 
was, first, that the dust of an English August is intol- 
erable, and, secondly, that women's society ought only 
to be ventured on by the men who are made for it. The 
views of Catherine and Rose may be deduced from his 
with tolerable certainty. 

But in the late afternoon, when they thought they 
[.316 ] 


had done their duty by him, and he was again alone 
in the garden reading, he suddenly heard the sounds 
of music. 

Who was playing, and in that way? He got up and 
strolled past the drawing-room window to find out. 

Rose had got hold of an accompanist, the timid 
dowdy daughter of a local solicitor, with some capacity 
for reading, and was now, in her lavish impetuous 
fashion, rushing through a quantity of new music, the 
accumulations of her visit to London. She stood up 
beside the piano, her hair gleaming in the shadow of 
the drawing-room, her white brow hanging forward 
over her violin as she peered her way through the 
music, her whole soul absorbed in what she was doing. 
Langham passed unnoticed. 

What astonishing playing ! Why had no one warned 
him of the presence of such a gift in this dazzling, 
prickly, unripe creature? He sat down against the 
wall of the house, as close as possible, but out of sight, 
and listened. All the romance of his spoilt and solitary 
life had come to him so far through music, and through 
such music as this! For she was playing Wagner, 
Brahms, and Rubinstein, interpreting all those pas- 
sionate voices of the subtlest moderns, through which 
the heart of our own day has expressed itself even 
more freely and exactly than through the voice of 
literature. Hans Sachs' immortal song, echoes from 
the love-duets in 'Tristan und Isolde/ fragments from 
a wild and alien dance-music, they rippled over him in 
a warm intoxicating stream of sound, stirring associa- 
tion after association, and rousing from sleep a hun- 
dred bygone moods of feeling. 
[ 317 ] 


What magic and mastery in the girl's touch ! What 
power of divination, and of rendering ! Ah ! she too 
was floating in passion and romance, but of a different 
sort altogether from 'the conscious reflected product 
of the man's nature. She was not thinking of the past, 
but of the future ; she was weaving her story that was 
to be into the flying notes, playing to the unknown of 
her Whindale dreams, the strong ardent unknown, - 
'insufferable, if he pleases, to all the world besides, 
but to me heaven ! ' She had caught no breath yet of 
his coming, but her heart was ready for him. 

Suddenly, as she put down her violin, the French 
window opened, and Langham stood before her. She 
looked at him with a quick stiffening of the face which 
a minute before had been all quivering and relaxed, 
and his instant perception of it chilled the impulse 
which had brought him there. 

He said something banal about his enjoyment, some- 
thing totally different from what he had meant to say. 
The moment presented itself, but he could not seize it 
or her. 

' I had no notion you cared for music/ she said care- 
lessly, as she shut the piano, and then she went away. 

Langham felt a strange fierce pang of disappoint- 
ment. What had he meant to do or say? Idiot! What 
common ground was there between him and any such 
exquisite youth ? What girl would ever see in him any- 
thing but the dull remains of what once had been a 


IHE next day was Sunday. Langham, who was as 
depressed and homesick as ever, with a certain new 
spice of restlessness, not altogether intelligible to him- 
self, thrown in, could only brace himself to the prospect 
by the determination to take the English rural Sunday 
as the subject of severe scientific investigation. He 
would 'do it' thoroughly. 

So he donned a black coat and went to church with 
the rest. There, in spite of his boredom with the whole 
proceeding, Robert's old tutor was a good deal more 
interested by Robert's sermon than he had expected 
to be. It was on the character of David, and there was 
a note in it, a note of historical imagination, a power 
of sketching in a background of circumstance, and of 
biting into the mind of the listener, as it were, by a 
detail or an epithet, which struck Langham as some- 
thing new in his experience of Elsmere. He followed 
it at first as one might watch a game of skill, enjoying 
the intellectual form of it, and counting the good 
points, but by the end he was not a little carried away. 
The peroration was undoubtedly very moving, very 
intimate, very modern, and Langham up to a certain 
point was extremely susceptible to oratory, as he was 
to music and acting. The critical judgement, however, 
at the root of him kept coolly repeating as he stood 
watching the people defile out of the church: 'This 
sort of thing will go down, will make a mark ; Elsmere 
is at the beginning of a career!' 
[ 319 ] 


In the afternoon Robert, who was feeling deeply 
guilty towards his wife, in that he had been forced 
to leave so much of the entertainment of Langham to 
her, asked his old friend to come for him to the school 
at four o'clock and take him for a walk between two 
engagements. Langham was punctual, and Robert 
carried him off first \o see the Sunday cricket, which 
was in full swing. During the past year the young 
rector had been developing a number of outdoor 
capacities which were probably always dormant in 
his Elsmere blood, the blood of generations of coun- 
try gentlemen, but which had never had full oppor- 
tunity before. He talked of fishing as Kingsley might 
have talked of it, and, indeed, with constant quota- 
tions from Kingsley ; and his cricket, which had been 
good enough at Oxford to get him into his College 
eleven, had stood him in specially good stead with the 
Murewell villagers. That his play was not elegant they 
were not likely to find out ; his bowling they set small 
store by ; but his batting was of a fine, slashing, su- 
perior sort which soon carried the Murewell Club to a 
much higher position among the clubs of the neigh- 
bourhood than it had ever yet aspired to occupy. 

The rector had no time to play on Sundays, how- 
ever, and, after they had hung about the green a little 
while, he took his friend over to the Workmen's In- 
stitute, which stood at the edge of it. He explained 
that the Institute had been the last achievement of 
the agent before Henslowe, a man who had done his 
duty to the estate according to his lights, and to whom 
it was owing that those parts of it, at any rate, which 
were most in the public eye, were still in fair condition. 
[ 320 J 


The Institute was now in bad repair and too small 
for the place. 'But catch that man doing anything 
for us!' exclaimed Robert hotly. 'He will hardly 
mend the roof now, merely, I believe, to spite me. 
But come and see my new Naturalists' Club/ 

And he opened the Institute door. Langham fol- 
lowed in the temper of one getting up a subject for 

Poor Robert! His labour and his enthusiasm de- 
served a more appreciative eye. He was wrapped up 
in his Club, which had been the great success of his 
first year, and he dragged Langham through it all, not 
indeed, sympathetic creature that he was, without 
occasional qualms. 'But after all/ he would say to 
himself indignantly, 'I must do something with him.' 

Langham, indeed, behaved with resignation. He 
looked at the collections for the year, and was quite 
ready to take it for granted that they were extremely 
creditable. Into the old-fashioned window-sills glazed 
compartments had been fitted, and these were now 
fairly filled with specimens, with eggs, butterflies, 
moths, beetles, fossils, and what not. A case of stuffed 
tropical birds presented by Robert stood in the centre 
of the room ; another containing the birds of the dis- 
trict was close by. On a table farther on stood two 
large open books, which served as records of observa- 
tions on the part of members of the Club. In one, 
which was scrawled over with mysterious hieroglyphs, 
any one might write what he would. In the other, only 
such facts and remarks as had passed the gauntlet of a 
Club meeting were recorded in Robert's neatest hand. 
On the same table stood jars full of strange creatures 
[ 321 ] 


- tadpoles and water larvae of all kinds, over which 
Robert hung now absorbed, poking among them with 
a straw, while Langham, to whom only the generalisa- 
tions of science were congenial, stood by and mildly 

As they came out a great loutish boy, who had 
evidently been hanging about waiting for the rector, 
came up to him, boorishly touched his cap, and then, 
taking a cardboard box out of his pocket, opened it 
with infinite caution, something like a tremor of 
emotion passing over his gnarled countenance. 

The rector's eyes glistened. 

' Hullo ! I say, Irwin, where in the name of fortune 
did you get that? You lucky fellow! Come in, and 
let's look it out'/ 

And the two plunged back into the Club together, 
leaving Langham to the philosophic and patient con- 
templation of the village green, its geese, its donkeys, 
and its surrounding fringe of houses. He felt that 
quite indisputably life would have been better worth 
living if, like Robert, he could have taken a passion- 
ate interest in rare moths or common ploughboys; 
but Nature having denied him the possibility, there 
was small use in grumbling. 

Presently the two naturalists came out again, and 
the boy went off, bearing his treasure with him. 

' Lucky dog ! ' said Robert, turning his friend into a 
country road leading out of the village, 'he's found 
one of the rarest moths of the district. Such a hero 
he'll be in the Club to-morrow night. It's extraordin- 
ary what a rational interest has done for that fellow ! 
I nearly fought him in public last winter/ 
[ 322 ] 


And he turned to his friend with a laugh, and yet 
with a little quick look of feeling in the grey eyes. 

'Magnificent, but not war/ said Langham drily. 'I 
would n't have given much for your chances against 
those shoulders/ 

' Oh, I don't know. I should have had a little science 
on my side, which counts for a great deal. We turned 
him out of the Club for brutality towards the old 
grandmother he lives with turned him out in public. 
Such a scene ! I shall never forget the boy's face. It 
was like a corpse, and the eyes burning out of it. He 
made for me, but the others closed up round, and we 
got him put out/ 

'Hard lines on the grandmother/ remarked Lang- 

'She thought so poor old thing! She left her 
cottage that night, thinking he would murder her, and 
went to a friend. At the end of a week he came into 
the friend's house, where she was alone in bed. She 
cowered under the bedclothes, she told me, expecting 
him to strike her. Instead of which he threw his wages 
down beside her and gruffly invited her to come home. 
"He would n't do her no mischief." Everybody dis- 
suaded her, but the plucky old thing went. A week or 
two afterwards she sent for me and I found her crying. 
She was sure the lad was ill, he spoke to nobody at his 
work. "Lord, sir!" she said, "it do remind me, when 
he sits glowering at nights, of those folks in the Bible, 
when the devils inside 'em kep' a-tearing 'em. But 
he's like a new-born babe to me, sir never does me 
no 'arm. And it do go to my heart, sir, to see how 
poorly he do take his vittles!" So I made tracks for 
[ 323 ] 


that lad/ said Robert, his eyes kindling, his whole 
frame dilating. ' I found him in the fields one morning. 
I have seldom lived through so much in half an hour. 
In the evening I walked him up to the Club, and we 
re-admitted him, and since then the boy has been like 
one clothed and in his right mind. If there is any 
trouble in the Club I set him on, and he generally puts 
it right. And when I was laid up with a chill in the 
spring, and the poor fellow came trudging up every 
night after his work to ask for me well, never mind ; 
but it gives one a good glow at one's heart to think 
about it.' 

The speaker threw back his head impulsively, as 
though defying his own feeling. Langham looked at 
him curiously. The pastoral temper was a novelty to 
him, and the strong development of it in the under- 
graduate of his Oxford recollections had its interest. 

'A quarter to six/ said Robert, as on their return 
from their walk they were descending a low-wooded 
hill above the village, and the church clock rang out. 
'I must hurry, or I shall be late for my story-telling/ 

'Story-telling!' said Langham, with a half-exasper- 
ated shrug. ' What next ? You clergy are too inventive 
by half!' 

Robert laughed a trifle bitterly. 

' I can't congratulate you on your epithets/ he said, 
thrusting his hands far into his pockets. 'Good heav- 
ens, if we were if we were inventive as a body, the 
Church would n't be where she is in the rural districts ! 
My story-telling is the simplest thing in the world. 
I began it in the winter with the object of somehow 
or other getting at the imagination of these rustics. 
[ 324 ] 


Force them for only half an hour to live some one 
else's life it is the one thing worth doing with them. 
That's what I have been aiming at. I told my stories 
all the winter Shakespeare, Don Quixote, Dumas - 
Heaven knows what! And on the whole it answers 
best. But now we are reading " The Talisman." Come 
and inspect us, unless you're a purist about your 
Scott ! None other of the immortals have such longu- 
eurs as he, and we cut him freely/ 

'By all means/ said Langham; 'lead on/ And he 
followed his companion without repugnance. After 
all, there was something contagious in so much youth 
and hopefulness. 

The story-telling was held in the Institute. 

A group of men and boys were hanging round the 
door when they reached it. The two friends made 
their way through, greeted in the dumb friendly Eng- 
lish fashion on all sides, and Langham found himself 
in a room half-filled with boys and youths, a few 
grown men, who had just put their pipes out, lounging 
at the back. 

Langham not only endured, but enjoyed the first 
part of the hour that followed. Robert was an admir- 
able reader, as most enthusiastic imaginative people 
are. He was a master of all those arts of look and ges- 
ture which make a spoken story telling and dramatic, 
and Langham marvelled with what energy, after his 
hard day's work, and with another service before him, 
he was able to throw himself into such a hors d'ceuvre 
as this. He was reading to-night one of the most per- 
fect scenes that even the Wizard of the North has ever 
conjured; the scene in the tent of Richard Lion-Heart, 
[ 325 ] 


when the disguised slave saves the life of the king, and 
Richard first suspects his identity. As he read on, his 
arms resting on the high desk in front of him, and his 
eyes, full of infectious enjoyment, travelling from the 
book to his audience, surrounded by human beings 
whose confidence he had won, and whose lives he was 
brightening from day to day, he seemed to Langham 
the very type and model of a man who had found his 
metier, found his niche in the world, and the best 
means of filling it. If to attain to an 'adequate and 
masterly expression of one's self be the aim of life, 
Robert was fast achieving it. This parish of twelve 
hundred souls gave him now all the scope he asked. 
It was evident that he felt his work to be rather above 
than below his deserts. He was content more than 
content to spend ability which would have distin- 
guished him in public life, or carried him far to the 
front in literature, on the civilising of a few hundred 
of England's rural poor. The future might bring him 
worldly success Langham thought it must and 
would. Clergymen of Robert's stamp are rare among 
us. But if so, it would be in response to no conscious 
effort of his. Here, in the country living he had so 
long dreaded and put from him, lest it should tax his 
young energies too lightly, he was happy deeply, 
abundantly happy, at peace with God, at one with 

Happy ! Langham, sitting at the outer corner of one 
of the benches, by the open door, gradually ceased to 
listen, started on other lines of thought by this realisa- 
tion, warm, stimulating, provocative, of another man's 

[ 326 ] 


Outside, the shadows lengthened across the green ; 
groups of distant children or animals passed in and out 
of the golden light-spaces ; the patches of heather left 
here and there glowed as the sunset touched them. 
Every now and then his eye travelled vaguely past a 
cottage garden, gay with the pinks and carmines of the 
phloxes, into the cool browns and bluish-greys of the 
raftered room beyond ; babies toddled across the road, 
with stooping mothers in their train; the whole air 
and scene seemed to be suffused with suggestions of 
the pathetic expansiveness and helplessness of human 
existence, which, generation after generation, is still 
so vulnerable, so confiding, so eager. Life after life 
flowers out from the darkness and sinks back into it 
again. And in the interval what agony, what disillu- 
sion ! All the apparatus of a universe that men may 
know what it is to hope and fail, to win and lose! 
Happy ! in this world, 'where men sit and hear each 
other groan/ His friend's confidence only made Lang- 
ham as melancholy as Job. 

What was it based on ? In the first place, on Christ- 
ianity 'on the passionate acceptance of an exquis- 
ite fairy-tale/ said the dreaming spectator to himself, 
'which at the first honest challenge of the critical sense 
withers in our grasp! That challenge Elsmere has 
never given it, and in all probability never will. No ! 
A man sees none the straighter for having a wife he 
adores, and a profession that suits him, between him 
and unpleasant facts!' 

In the evening Langham, with the usual reaction of 
his afternoon self against his morning self, felt that 
[ 327 ] 


wild horses should not take him to church again, and, 
with a longing for something purely mundane, he 
stayed at home with a volume of Montaigne, while 
apparently all the rest of the household went to even- 
ing service. 

After a warm day the evening had turned cold and 
stormy; the west was streaked with jagged strips of 
angry cloud, the wind was rising in the trees, and the 
temperature had suddenly fallen so much that when 
Langham shut himself up in Robert's study he did 
what he had been admonished to do in case of need, 
set a light to the fire, which blazed out merrily into 
the darkening room. Then he drew the curtains and 
threw himself down into Robert's chair with a sigh of 
Sybaritic satisfaction. 'Good! Now for something 
that takes the world less naively/ he said to himself; 
'this house is too virtuous for anything/ 

He opened his Montaigne and read on very hap- 
pily for half an hour. The house seemed entirely de- 

'All the servants gone too!' he said presently, look- 
ing up and listening. 'Anybody who wants the spoons 
need n't trouble about me. I don't leave this fire.' 

And he plunged back again into his book. At last 
there was a sound of the swing-door which separated 
Robert's passage from the front hall opening and 
shutting. Steps came quickly towards the study, the 
handle was turned, and there on the threshold stood 

He turned quickly round in his chair with a look of 
astonishment. She also started as she saw him. 

'I did not know any one was in,' she said awk- 
[ 328 ] 


wardly, the colour spreading over her face. ' I came to 
look for a book/ 

She made a delicious picture as she stood framed in 
the darkness of the doorway, her long dress caught up 
round her in one hand, the other resting on the handle. 
A gust of some delicate perfume seemed to enter the 
room with her, and a thrill of pleasure passed through 
Langham's senses. 

'Can I find anything for you?' he said, springing up. 

She hesitated a moment, then apparently made up 
her mind that it would be foolish to retreat, and, com- 
ing forward, she said, with an accent as coldly polite 
as she could make it, 

' Pray don't disturb yourself. I know exactly where 
to find it.' 

She went up to the shelves where Robert kept his 
novels, and began running her fingers over the books, 
with slightly knitted brows and a mouth severely shut. 
Langham, still standing, watched her and presently 
stepped forward. 

'You can't reach those upper shelves/ he said; 
'please let me.' 

He was already beside her, and she gave way. 

' I want "Charles Auchester," ' she said, still forbid- 
dingly. ' It ought to be there.' 

' Oh, that queer musical novel I know it quite 
well. No sign of it here/ and he ran over the shelves 
with the practised eye of one accustomed to deal with 

'Robert must have lent it/ said Rose, with a little 
sigh. 'Never mind, please. It doesn't matter/ and 
she was already moving away. 
[ 329 ] 


'Try some other instead/ he said, smiling, his arm 
still upstretched. 'Robert has no lack of choice/ His 
manner had an animation and ease usually quite for- 
eign to it. Rose stopped, and her lips relaxed a little. 

'He is very nearly as bad as the novel -reading 
bishop, who was reduced at last to stealing the serv- 
ant's Family Herald out of the kitchen cupboard/ 
she said, a smile dawning. 

Langham laughed. 

' Has he such an episcopal appetite for them? That 
accounts for the fact that when he and I begin to talk 
novels I am always nowhere/ 

'I should n't have supposed you ever read them/ 
said Rose, obeying an irresistible impulse, and biting 
her lip the moment afterwards. 

' Do you think that we poor people at Oxford are 
always condemned to works on the "enclitic Se"?' 
he asked, his fine eyes lit up with gaiety, and his head, 
of which the Greek outlines were ordinarily so much 
disguised by his stoop and hesitating look, thrown 
back against the books behind him. 

Natures like Langham's, in which the nerves are 
never normal, have their moments of felicity, balanc- 
ing their weeks of timidity and depression. After his 
melancholy of the last two days the tide of reaction 
had been mounting within him, and the sight of Rose 
had carried it to its height. 

She gave a little involuntary stare of astonishment. 
What had happened to Robert's silent and finicking 

' I know nothing of Oxford/ she said a little primly, 
in answer to his question. ' I never was there but I 
[ 330 ] 


never was anywhere, I have seen nothing/ she added 
hastily, and, as Langham thought, bitterly. 

' Except London, and the great world, and Madame 
Desforets ! ' he answered, laughing. ' Is that so little ? ' 

She flashed a quick defiant look at him, as he men- 
tioned Madame Desforets, but his look was imper- 
turbably kind and gay. She could not help softening 
towards him. What magic had passed over him ? 

'Do you know/ said Langham, moving, 'that you 
are standing in a draught, and that it has turned 
extremely cold?' 

For she had left the passage-door wide open behind 
her, and as the window was partially open the curtains 
were swaying hither and thither, and her muslin dress 
was being blown in coils round her feet. 

'So it has/ said Rose, shivering. 'I don't envy the 
church people. You have n't found me a book, Mr. 

' I will find you one in a minute, if you will come and 
read it by the fire/ he said, with his hand on the door. 

She glanced at the fire and at him, irresolute. His 
breath quickened. She too had passed into another 
phase. Was it the natural effect of night, of solitude, 
of sex? At any rate, she sank softly into the armchair 
opposite to that in which he had been sitting. 

'Find me an exciting one, please.' 

Langham shut the door securely, and went back to 
the bookcase, his hand trembling a little as it passed 
along the books. He found ' Villette' and offered it to 
her. She took it, opened it, and appeared deep in it at 
once. He took the hint and went back to his Montaigne. 

The fire crackled cheerfully, the wind outside made 
[ 331 ] 


every now and then a sudden gusty onslaught on their 
silence, dying away again as abruptly as it had risen. 
Rose turned the pages of her book, sitting a little stiffly 
in her long chair, and Langham gradually began to 
find Montaigne impossible to read. He became instead 
more and more alive to every detail of the situation 
into which he had fallen. At last seeing, or imagining, 
that the fire wanted attending to, he bent forward 
and thrust the poker into it. A burning coal fell on 
the hearth and Rose hastily withdrew her foot from 
the fender and looked up. 

'I am so sorry!' he interjected. 'Coals never do 
what you want them to do. Are you very much in- 
terested in "Villette"?' 

'Deeply/ said Rose, letting the book, however, drop 
on her lap. She laid back her head with a little sigh, 
which she did her best to check, halfway through. 
What ailed her to-night? She seemed wearied ; for the 
moment there was no fight in her with anybody. Her 
music, her beauty, her mutinous mocking gaiety 
these things had all worked on the man beside her ; 
but this new softness, this touch of childish fatigue, 
was adorable. 

'Charlotte Bronte wrote it out of her Brussels ex- 
perience, did n't she?' she resumed languidly. 'How 
sorry she must have been to come back to that dull 
home and that awful brother after such a break!' 

' There were reasons more than one that must have 
made her sorry to come back,' said Langham reflect- 
ively. ' But how she pined for her wilds all through ! 
I am afraid you don't find your wilds as interesting 
as she found hers?' 

[ 332 ] 


His question and his smile startled her. 

Her first impulse was to take up her book again, as 
a hint to him that her likings were no concern of his. 
But something checked it, probably the new brilliancy 
of that look of his, which had suddenly grown so per- 
sonal, so manly. Instead, 'Villette' slid a little far- 
ther from her hand, and her pretty head still lay lightly 
back against the cushion. 

'No, I don't find my wilds interesting at all/ she 
said forlornly. 

'You are not fond of the people as your sister is?' 

' Fond of them ? ' cried Rose hastily. ' I should think 
not ; and what is more, they don't like me. It is quite 
intolerable since Catherine left. I have so much more 
to do with them. My other sister and I have to do all 
her work. It is dreadful to have to work after some- 
body who has a genius for doing just what you do 

The young girl's hands fell across one another with 
a little impatient gesture. Langham had a movement 
of the most delightful compassion towards the petu- 
lant, childish creature. It was as though their relative 
positions had been in some mysterious way reversed. 
During their two days together she had been the su- 
perior, and he had felt himself at the mercy of her 
scornful sharp-eyed youth. Now, he knew not how 
or why, Fate seemed to have restored to him some- 
thing of the man's natural advantage, combined, for 
once, with the impulse to use it. 

'Your sister, I suppose, has been always happy in 
charity?' he said. 

'Oh dear, yes/ said Rose irritably; 'anything that 
[ 333 ] 


has two legs and is ill, that is all Catherine wants to 
make her happy.' 

'And you want something quite different, some- 
thing more exciting?' he asked, his diplomatic tone 
showing that he felt he dared something in thus press- 
ing her, but dared it at least with his wits about him. 
Rose met his look irresolutely, a little tremor of self- 
consciousness creeping over her. 

'Yes, I want something different/ she said in a low 
voice and paused ; then, raising herself energetically, 
she clasped her hands round her knees. ' But it is not 
idleness I want. I want to work, but at things I was 
born for ; I can't have patience with old women, but I 
could slave all day and all night to play the violin/ 

'You want to give yourself up to study then, and 
live with musicians?' he said quietly. 

She shrugged her shoulders by way of answer, and 
began nervously to play with her rings. 

That under-self which was the work and the heritage 
of her father in her, and which, beneath all the wilful- 
nesses and defiances of the other self, held its own 
moral debates in its own way, well out of Catherine's 
sight generally, began to emerge, wooed into the light 
by his friendly gentleness. 

'But it is all so difficult, you see/ she said despair- 
ingly. ' Papa thought it wicked to care about anything 
except religion. If he had lived, of course I should 
never have been allowed to study music. It has been 
all mutiny so far, every bit of it, whatever I have been 
able to do/ 

'He would have changed with the times/ said 

[ 334 ] 


'I know he would/ cried Rose. 'I have told Cather- 
ine so a hundred times. People good people - 
think quite differently about art now, don't they, 
Mr. Langham?' 

She spoke with perfect naivete. He saw more and 
more of the child in her, in spite of that one striking 
development of her art. 

'They call it the handmaid of religion/ he answered, 

Rose made a little face. 

' I should n't, ' she said, with frank brevity. ' But then 
there 's something else. You know where we live at 
the very ends of the earth, seven miles from a station, 
in the very loneliest valley of all Westmoreland. 
What's to be done with a fiddle in such a place? Of 
course, ever since papa died I've just been plotting 
and planning to get away. But there's the difficulty,' 
and she crossed one white finger over another as she 
laid out her case. ' That house where we live has been 
lived in by Leyburns ever since the Flood ! Horrid 
set they were, I know, because I can't ever make 
mamma or even Catherine talk about them. But still, 
when papa retired, he came back, and bought the old 
place from his brother. Such a dreadful, dreadful 
mistake ! ' cried the child, letting her hands fall over 
her knee. 

'Had he been so happy there?' 

'Happy!' - and Rose's lip curled. 'His brothers 
used to kick and cuff him, his father was awfully 
unkind to him, he never had a day's peace till he 
went to school, and after he went to school he never 
came back for years and years and years, till Cath- 
[ 335 ] 


erine was fifteen. What could have made him so fond 
of it?' 

And again looking despondently into the fire she 
pondered that far-off perversity of her father's. 

'Blood has strange magnetisms/ said Langham, 
seized as he spoke by the pensive prettiness of the 
bent head and neck, 'and they show themselves in 
the oddest ways/ 

'Then I wish they would n't/ she said irritably. 
' But that is n't all. He went there, not only because 
he loved that place, but because he hated other places. 
I think he must have thought' and her voice 
dropped 'he was n't going to live long he was n't 
well when he gave up the school and then we could 
grow up there safe, without any chance of getting into 
mischief. Catherine says he thought the world was 
getting very wicked and dangerous and irreligious, 
and that it comforted him to know that we should be 
out of it.' 

Then she broke off suddenly. 

'Do you know/ she went on wistfully, raising her 
beautiful eyes to her companion, 'after all, he gave me 
my first violin.' 

Langham smiled. 

'I like that little inconsequence/ he said. 

'Then of course I took to it, like a duck to water, 
and it began to scare him that I loved it so much. He 
and Catherine only loved religion, and us, and the poor. 
So he always took it away on Sundays. Then I hated 
Sundays, and would never be good on them. One Sun- 
day I cried myself nearly into a fit on the dining-room 
floor because I might n't have it. Then he came in, 
[ 336 ] 


and he took me up, and he tied a Scotch plaid round 
his neck, and he put me into it, and carried me away 
right up on to the hills, and he talked to me like an 
angel. He asked me not to make him sad before God 
that he had given me that violin ; so I never screamed 
again on Sundays ! ' 

Her companion's eyes were not quite as clear as 

'Poor little naughty child/ he said, bending over to 
her. ' I think your father must have been a man to be 

She looked at him, very near to weeping, her face 
all working with a soft remorse. 

' Oh, so he was so he was ! If he had been hard 
and ugly to us, why, it would have been much easier 
for me; but he was so good ! And there was Catherine 
just like him, always preaching to us what he wished. 
You see what a chain it's been what a weight ! And 
as I must struggle must, because I was I to get 
back into the world on the other side of the mountains, 
and do what all the dear wicked people there were 
doing, why, I have been a criminal all my life ! And 
that is n't exhilarating always.' 

And she raised her arm and let it fall beside her with 
the quick over-tragic emotion of nineteen. 

' I wish your father could have heard you play as 
I heard you play yesterday/ he said gently. 

She started. 'Did you hear me that Wagner?' 

He nodded, smiling. She still looked at him, her 
lips slightly open. 

'Do you want to know what I thought? I have 
heard much music, you know/ 
[ 337 ] 


He laughed into her eyes, as much as to say, ' I am 
not quite the mummy you thought me, after all!' 
And she coloured slightly. 

' I have heard every violinist of any fame in Europe 
play, and play often ; and it seemed to me that with 
time and work you might play as well as any of 

The slight flush became a glow that spread from 
brow to chin. Then she gave a long breath and turned 
away, her face resting on her hand. 

'And I can't help thinking/ he went on, marvelling 
inwardly at his own role of mentor, and his strange 
enjoyment of it, 'that if your father had lived till now, 
and had gone with the times a little, as he must have 
gone, he would have learnt to take pleasure in your 
pleasure, and to fit your gift somehow into his scheme 
of things/ 

'Catherine has n't moved with the times/ said Rose 

Langham was silent. Gaucherie seized him again 
when it became a question of discussing Mrs. Elsmere, 
his own view was so inconveniently emphatic. 

'And you think/ she went on, 'you really think, 
without being too ungrateful to papa, and too unkind 
to the old Leyburn ghosts' and a little laugh 
danced through the vibrating voice 'I might try 
and get them to give up Burwood I might struggle 
to have my way? I shall, of course I shall! I never 
was a weak martyr, and never shall be. But one can't 
help having qualms, though one does n't tell them to 
one's sisters and cousins and aunts. And sometimes' 
she turned her chin round on her hand and looked 
[ 338 ] 


at him with a delicious shy impulsiveness 'some- 
times a stranger sees clearer. Do you think me a mon- 
ster, as Catherine does?' 

Even as she spoke her own words startled her the 
confidence, the abandonment of them. But she held 
to them bravely ; only her eyelids quivered. She had 
absurdly misjudged this man, and there was a warm 
penitence in her heart. How kind he had been, how 
sympathetic ! 

He rose with her last words, and stood leaning 
against the mantelpiece, looking down upon her 
gravely, with the air, as it seemed to her, of her friend, 
her confessor. Her white childish brow, the little curls 
of bright hair upon her temples, her parted lips, the 
pretty folds of the muslin dress, the little foot on the 
fender every detail of the picture impressed itself 
once for all. Langham will carry it with him to his 

' Tell me/ she said again, smiling divinely, as though 
to encourage him --'tell me quite frankly, down to 
the bottom, what you think?' 

The harsh noise of an opening door in the distance, 
and a gust of wind sweeping through the house, voices 
and steps approaching. Rose sprang up, and, for the 
first time during all the latter part of their conversa- 
tion, felt a sharp sense of embarrassment. 

' How early you are, Robert ! ' she exclaimed, as the 
study-door opened, and Robert's wind-blown head and 
tall form, wrapped in an Inverness cape, appeared on 
the threshold. 'Is Catherine tired?' 

' Rather,' said Robert, the slightest gleam of surprise 
betraying itself on his face. ' She has gone to bed, and 
[ 339 ] 


told me to ask you to come and say good-night to 

'You got my message about not coming from old 
Martha?' asked Rose. 'I met her on the common/ 

'Yes, she gave it us at the church -door/ He went 
out again into the passage to hang up his greatcoat. 
She followed, longing to tell him that it was pure 
accident that took her to the study, but she could not 
find words in which to do it, and could only say good- 
night a little abruptly. 

'How tempting that fire looks!' said Robert, re- 
entering the study. 'Were you very cold, Langham, 
before you lit it?' 

'Very,' said Langham, smiling, his arm behind his 
head, his eyes fixed on the blaze; 'but I have been 
delightfully warm and happy since/ 

Murewell Church 


CATHERINE stopped beside the drawing-room window 
with a start, caught by something she saw outside. 

It was nothing, however, but the figures of Rose 
and Langham strolling round the garden. A bystander 
would have been puzzled by the sudden knitting of 
Catherine's brows over it. 

Rose held a red parasol, which gleamed against the 
trees ; Dandie leapt about her, but she was too busy 
talking to take much notice of him. Talking, chatter- 
ing, to that cold cynic of a man, for whom only yester- 
day she had scarcely had a civil word ! Catherine felt 
herself a prey to all sorts of vague unreasonable alarms. 

Robert had said to her the night before, with an odd 
look: 'Wifie, when I came in I found Langham and 
Rose had been spending the evening together in the 
study. And I don't know when I have seen Langham 
so brilliant or so alive as in our smoking talk just now ! ' 

Catherine had laughed him to scorn; but, all the 
same, she had been a little longer going to sleep than 
usual. She felt herself almost as much as ever the 
guardian of her sisters, and the old sensitive nerve was 
set quivering. And now there could be no question 
about it Rose had changed her ground towards Mr. 
Langham altogether. Her manner at breakfast was 
evidence enough of it. 

Catherine's self -torturing mind leapt on for an in- 
stant to all sorts of horrors. That man ! and she and 
[ 341 ] 


Robert responsible to her mother and her dead father ! 
Never! Then she scolded herself back to common 
sense. Rose and he had discovered a common subject 
in music and musicians. That would be quite enough 
to account for the new-born friendship on Rose's part. 
And in five more days, the* limit of Langham's stay, 
nothing very dreadful could happen, argued the re- 
served Catherine. 

But she was uneasy, and after a bit, as that tete-a- 
tete in the garden still went on, she could not, for the 
life of her, help interfering. She strolled out to meet 
them with some woollen stuff hanging over her arm, 
and made a plaintive and smiling appeal to Rose to 
come and help her with some preparations for a mo- 
thers' meeting to be held that afternoon. Rose, who 
was supposed by the family to be 'taking care' of her 
sister at a critical time, had a moment's prick of con- 
science, and went off with a good grace. Langham felt 
vaguely that he owed Mrs. Elsmere another grudge, 
but he resigned himself and took out a cigarette, 
wherewith to console himself for the loss of his com- 

Presently, as he stood for a moment turning over 
some new books on the drawing-room table, Rose 
came in. She held an armful of blue serge, and, going 
up to a table in the window, she took from it a little 
work-case, and was about to vanish again when Lang- 
ham went up to her. 

'You look intolerably busy/ he said to her, discon- 

'Six dresses, ten cloaks, eight petticoats to cut 
out by luncheon-time,' she answered demurely, with 
[ 342 ] 


a countenance of most Dorcas-like seriousness, 'and 
if I spoil them I shall have to pay for the stuff ! ' 

He shrugged his shoulders and looked at her, smil- 
ing, still master of himself and of his words. 

'And no music none at all? Perhaps you don't 
know that I too can accompany?' 

' You play ! ' she exclaimed, incredulous. 

'Try me/ 

The light of his fine black eyes seemed to encompass 
her. She moved backward a little, shaking her head. 
'Not this morning/ she said. 'Oh dear, no, not this 
morning ! I am afraid you don't know anything about 
tacking or fixing, or the abominable time they take. 
Well, it could hardly be expected. There is nothing in 
the world ' and she shook her serge vindictively - 
'that I hate so much!' 

'And not this afternoon, for Robert and I go fishing. 
But this evening?' he said, detaining her. 

She nodded lightly, dropped her lovely eyes with a 
sudden embarrassment, and went away with lightning 

A minute or two later Elsmere laid a hand on his 
friend's shoulder. 'Come and see the Hall, old fellow. 
It will be our last chance, for the squire and his sister 
come back this afternoon. I must parochialise a bit 
afterwards, but you shan't be much victimised.' 

Langham submitted, and they sallied forth. It was 
a soft rainy morning, one of the first heralds of autumn. 
Grey mists were drifting silently across the woods and 
the wide stubbles of the now shaven cornfield, where 
white lines of reapers were at work, as the morning 
cleared, making and stacking the sheaves. After a 
[ 343 ] 


stormy night the garden was strewn with debris, and 
here and there noiseless prophetic showers of leaves 
were propping on the lawn. 

Elsmere took his guest along a bit of common, where 
great black junipers stood up like magnates in council 
above the motley undergrowth of fern and heather, 
and then they turned into the park. A great stretch 
of dimpled land it was, falling softly towards the south 
and west, bounded by a shining twisted river, and 
commanding from all its highest points a heathery 
world of distance, now turned a stormy purple under 
the drooping fringes of the rain-clouds. They walked 
downwards from the moment of entering it, till at last, 
when they reached a wooded plateau about a hundred 
feet above the river, the house itself came suddenly 
into view. 

That was a house of houses ! The large main build- 
ing, as distinguished from the lower stone portions to 
the north which represented a fragment of the older 
Elizabethan house, had been in its day the crown and 
boast of Jacobean house-architecture. It was fretted 
and jewelled with Renaissance terra -cotta work from 
end to end ; each gable had its lacework, each window 
its carved setting. And yet the lines of the whole were 
so noble, genius had hit the general proportions so 
finely, that no effect of stateliness or grandeur had 
been missed through all the accumulation of ornament. 
Majestic relic of a vanished England, the house rose 
amid the August woods rich in every beauty that site, 
and wealth, and centuries could give to it. The river 
ran about it as though it loved it. The cedars which 
had kept it company for well-nigh two centuries gath- 
[ 344 ] 


ered proudly round it; the deer grouped themselves in 
the park beneath it, as though they were conscious 
elements in a great whole of loveliness. 

The two friends were admitted by a housemaid who 
happened to be busy in the hall, and whose red cheeks 
and general breathlessness bore witness to the energy 
of the storm of preparation now sweeping through the 

The famous hall to which Elsmere at once drew 
Langham's attention was, however, in no way remark- 
able for size or height. It told comparatively little of 
seignorial dignity, but it was as though generation 
after generation had employed upon its perfecting the 
craft of its most delicate fingers, the love of its most 
fanciful and ingenious spirits. Overhead, the stucco- 
work ceiling, covered with stags and birds and strange 
heraldic creatures unknown to science, had the deep 
creamy tint, the consistency and surface of antique 
ivory. From the white-and-gilt frieze beneath, un- 
touched, so Robert explained, since the Jacobean days 
when it was first executed, hung Renaissance tapes- 
tries which would have made the heart's delight of any 
romantic child, so rich they were in groves of marvel- 
lous trees hung with red and golden fruits, in far- 
reaching palaces and rock-built citadels, in flying 
shepherdesses and pursuing shepherds. Between the 
tapestries, again, there were breadths of carved panel- 
ling, crowded with all things round and sweet, with 
fruits and flowers and strange musical instruments, 
with flying cherubs, and fair faces in laurel-wreathed 
medallions; while in the middle of the wall a great 
oriel window broke the dim venerable surfaces of 
[ 345 ] 


wood and tapestry with stretches of jewelled light. 
Tables crowded with antiques, with Tanagra figures 
or Greek vases, with Florentine bronzes or specimens 
of the wilful vivacious wood-carving of seventeenth- 
century Spain, stood scattered on the Persian carpets. 
And, to complete the whole, the gardeners had just 
been at work on the corners of the hall, and of the great 
window, so that the hard-won subtleties of man's by- 
gone handiwork, with which the splendid room was 
encrusted from top to bottom, were masked and re- 
lieved here and there by the careless easy splendour 
of flowers, which had but to bloom in order to eclipse 
them all. 

Robert was at home in the great pile, where for 
many months he had gone freely in and out on his way 
to the library, and the housekeeper only met him to 
make an apology for her working dress, and to hand 
over to him the keys of the library bookcases, with the 
fretful comment that seemed to have in it the ghostly 
voice of generations of housemaids, ' Oh lor', sir, they 
are a trouble, them books ! ' 

From the drawing-rooms, full of a more modern 
and less poetical magnificence, where Langham turned 
restless and refractory, Elsmere with a smile took his 
guest silently back into the hall, and opened a carved 
door behind a curtain. Passing through, they found 
themselves in a long passage lighted by small windows 
on the left-hand side. 

'This passage, please notice/ said Robert, 'leads to 
nothing but the wing containing the library, or rather 
libraries, which is the oldest part of the house. I al- 
ways enter it with a kind of pleasing awe ! Consider 
[ 346 ] 


these carpets, which keep out every sound, and look 
how everything gets older as we go on/ 

For halfway down the passage the ceiling seemed 
to descend upon their heads, the flooring became un- 
even, and woodwork and walls showed that they had 
passed from the Jacobean house into the much older 
Tudor building. Presently Robert led the way up a few 
shallow steps, pushed open a heavy door, also covered 
by curtains, and bade his companion enter. 

They found themselves in a low immense room, 
running at right angles to the passage they had just 
quitted. The long diamond-paned window, filling al- 
most half of the opposite wall, faced the door by which 
they had come in ; the heavy carved mantelpiece was 
to their right; an open doorway on their left, closed 
at present by tapestry hangings, seemed to lead into 
yet other rooms. 

The walls of this one were completely covered from 
floor to ceiling with latticed bookcases, enclosed 
throughout in a frame of oak carved in light classical 
relief by what appeared to be a French hand of the six- 
teenth century. The chequered bindings of the books, 
in which the creamy tints of vellum predominated, 
lined the whole surface of the wall with a delicate 
sobriety of colour ; over the mantelpiece, the picture 
of the founder of the house a Holbein portrait, 
glorious in red robes and fur and golden necklace - 
seemed to gather up and give voice to all the dignity 
and impressiveness of the room beneath him ; while on 
the window side the book-lined wall was, as it were, 
replaced by the wooded face of a hill, clothed in dark 
lines of trimmed yews, -which rose abruptly about a 
[ 347 ] 


hundred yards from the house and overshadowed the 
whole library wing. Between the window and the hill, 
however, was a small old English garden, closely 
hedged round with yew hedges, and blazing now with 
every flower that an English August knows with 
sun-flowers, tiger-lilies, and dahlias white and red. 
The window was low, so that the flowers seemed to be 
actually in the room, challenging the pale tints of the 
books, the tawny browns and blues of the Persian 
carpet, and the scarlet splendours of the courtier over 
the mantelpiece. The room was lit up besides by a few 
gleaming casts from the antique, by the ' Diane Chas- 
seresse' of the Louvre, by the Hermes of Praxiteles 
smiling with immortal kindness on the child enthroned 
upon his arm, and by a Donatello figure of a woman 
in marble, its subtle sweet austerity contrasting with 
the Greek frankness and blitheness of its companions. 

Langham was penetrated at once by the spell of 
this strange and beautiful place. The fastidious in- 
stincts which had been half -revolted by the costly ac- 
cumulations, the overblown splendours of the drawing- 
room, were abundantly satisfied here. 

'So it was here/ he said, looking round him, 'that 
that man wrote "The Idols of the Market-place"?' 

'I imagine so/ said Robert; 'if so, he might well 
have felt a little more charity towards the human race 
in writing it. The race cannot be said to have treated 
him badly on the whole. But now look, Langham, 
look at these books the most precious things are 

And he turned the key of a particular section of the 
wall, which was not only latticed but glazed. 
[ 348 ] 


'Here is "A Mirror for Magistrates." Look at the 
title-page ; you will find Gabriel Harvey's name on it. 
Here is a first edition of "Astrophel" and "Stella," 
another of the "Arcadia." They may very well be 
presentation copies, for the Wendover of that day is 
known to have been a wit and a writer. Imagine find- 
ing them in situ like this in the same room, perhaps on 
the same shelves, as at the beginning! The other 
rooms on this floor have been annexed since, but this 
room was always a library/ 

Langham took the volumes reverently from Rob- 
ert's hands into his own, the scholar's passion hot 
within him. That glazed case was indeed a storehouse 
of treasures. Ben Jonson's ' Underwoods' with his 
own corrections ; a presentation copy of Andrew Mar- 
vell's 'Poems/ with autograph notes; manuscript 
volumes of letters, containing almost every famous 
name known to English literature in the seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries, the literary cream, in fact, 
of all the vast collection which filled the muniment 
room upstairs ; books which had belonged to Addison, 
to Sir William Temple, to Swift, to Horace Walpole ; 
the four folios of Shakespeare, all perfect, and most 
of the quartos everything that the heart of the 
English collector could most desire was there. And 
the charm of it was that only a small proportion 
of these precious things represented conscious and 
deliberate acquisition. The great majority of them 
had, as it were, drifted thither one by one, carried there 
by the tide of English letters as to a warm and natural 

But Robert grew impatient, and hurried on his 
[ 349 ] 


guest to other things to the shelves of French 
rarities, ranging from Du Bellay's 'Visions/ with 
his autograph, down to the copy of ' Les Memoires 
d'Outre-Tombe' presented by Chateaubriand to Ma- 
dame Rcamier, or to a dainty manuscript volume in 
the fine writing of Lamartine. 

'These/ Robert explained, 'were collected, I believe, 
by the squire's father. He was not in the least literary, 
so they say, but it had always been a point of honour 
to carry on the library, and as he had learnt French 
well in his youth he bought French things, taking ad- 
vice, but without knowing much about them, I imag- 
ine. It was in the room overhead/ said Robert, laying 
down the book he held, and speaking in a lower key, 
' so the old doctor of the house told me a few weeks ago, 
that the same poor soul put an end to himself twenty 
years ago/ 

'What in the name of fortune did he do that for?' 

'Mania/ said Robert quietly. 

'Whew!' said the other, lifting his eyebrows. 'Is 
that the skeleton in this very magnificent cupboard ? ' 

' It has been the Wendover scourge from the begin- 
ning, so I hear. Every one about here of course ex- 
plains this man's eccentricities by the family history. 
But I don't know/ said Robert, his lip hardening, 'it 
may be extremely convenient sometimes to have a 
tradition of the kind. A man who knew how to work 
it might very well enjoy all the advantages of sanity 
and the privileges of insanity at the same time. The 
poor old doctor I was telling you of old Meyrick 
who has known the squire since his boyhood, and has 
a dog-like attachment to him, is always hinting at 
[ 350 ] 


mysterious excuses. Whenever I let out to him, as I 
do sometimes, as to the state of the property, he talks 
of "inherited melancholy," "rash judgements," and 
so forth. I like the good old soul, but I don't believe 
much of it. A man who is sane enough to make a great 
name for himself in letters is sane enough to provide 
his estate with a decent agent/ 

'It does n't follow/ said Langham, who was, how- 
ever, so deep in a collection of Spanish romances and 
chronicles that the squire's mental history did not 
seem to make much impression upon him. 'Most men 
of letters are mad, and I should be inclined,' he added, 
with a sudden and fretful emphasis, 'to argue much 
worse things for the sanity of your squire, Elsmere, 
from the fact that this room is undoubtedly allowed 
to get damp sometimes, than from any of those absurd 
parochial tests of yours.' 

And he held up a couple of priceless books, of which 
the Spanish sheepskin bindings showed traces here and 
there of moisture. 

'It is no use, I know, expecting you to preserve a 
moral sense when you get among books,' said Robert 
with a shrug. ' I will reserve my remarks on that sub- 
ject. But you must really tear yourself away from this 
room, Langham, if you want to see the rest of the 
squire's quarters. Here you have what we may call 
the ornamental sensational part of the library, that 
part of it which would make a stir at Sotheby's ; the 
working parts are all to come/ 

Langham reluctantly allowed himself to be dragged 
away. Robert held back the hangings over the door- 
way leading into the rest of the wing, and, passing 
[ 351 ] 



through, they found themselves in a continuation of 
the library totally different in character from the 
magnificent room they had just left. The walls were no 
longer latticed and carved ; they were closely packed, 
in the most business-like way, with books which repre- 
sented the squire's own collection, and were in fact a 
chart of his own intellectual history. 

'This is how I interpret this room/ said Robert, 
looking round it. ' Here are the books he collected at 
Oxford in the Tractarian Movement and afterwards. 
Look here/ and he pulled out a volume of 'St. Basil/ 

Langham looked, and saw on the title-page a note 
in faded characters : ' Given to me by Newman at Ox- 
ford, in 1845.' 

'Ah, of course, he was one of them in '45; he must 
have left them very soon after/ said Langham re- 

Robert nodded. ' But look at them ! There are the 
Tracts, all the Fathers, all the Councils, and masses, 
as you see, of Anglican theology. Now look at the 
next case, nothing but eighteenth century ! ' 

' I see, from the Fathers to the Philosophers, from 
Hooker to Hume. How history repeats itself in the 

'And there again/ said Robert, pointing to the other 
side of the room, 'are the results of his life as a German 

' Germany ah, I remember ! How long was he 

' Ten years, at Berlin and Heidelberg. According to 
old Meyrick, he buried his last chance of living like 
other men at Berlin. His years of extravagant labour 
[ 352 ] 


there have left marks upon him physically that can 
never be effaced. But that bookcase fascinates me. Half 
the great names of modern thought are in those books/ 
And so they were. The first Langham opened had 
a Latin dedication in a quavering old man's hand, 
' Amico et discipulo meo/ signed ' Fredericus^Gulielmus 
Schelling.' The next bore the autograph of Alexander 
von Humboldt, the next that of Boeckh, the famous 
classic, and so on. Close by was Niebuhr's History, in 
the title-page of which a few lines in the historian's 
handwriting bore witness to much ' pleasant discourse 
between the writer and Roger Wendover, at Bonn, 
in the summer of 1847. ' Judging from other shelves 
farther down, he must also have spent some time, 
perhaps an academic year, at Tubingen, for here were 
most of the early editions of the 'Leben Jesu/ with 
some corrections from Strauss's hand, and similar rec- 
ords of Baur, Ewald, and other members or opponents 
of the Tubingen school. And so on, through the whole 
bookcase. Something of everything was there Phil- 
osophy, Theology, History, Philology. The collection 
was a medley, and made almost a spot of disorder in 
the exquisite neatness and system of the vast gather- 
ing of which it formed part. Its bond of union was 
simply that it represented the forces of an epoch, the 
thoughts, the men, the occupations which had ab- 
sorbed the energies of ten golden years. Every book 
seemed to be full of paper marks ; almost every title- 
page was covered with minute writing, which, when 
examined, proved to contain a record of lectures, or 
conversations with the author of the volume, some- 
times a string of anecdotes or a short biography, 
[ 353 ] 


rapidly sketched out of the fulness of personal know- 
ledge, and often seasoned with a subtle causticity and 
wit. A history of modern thinking Germany, of that 
' unextinguished hearth' whence the mind of Europe 
has been kindled for three generations, might almost 
have been evolved from that "bookcase and its contents 

Langham, as he stood peering among the ugly, 
vilely-printed German volumes, felt suddenly a kind 
of magnetic influence creeping over him. The room 
seemed instinct with a harsh commanding presence. 
The history of a mind and soul was written upon the 
face of it ; every shelf, as it were, was an autobiograph- 
ical fragment, an 'Apologia pro Vita Mea.' He drew 
away from the books at last with the uneasy feeling 
of one who surprises a confidence, and looked for 
Robert. Robert was at the end of the room, a couple 
of volumes under his arm, another, which he was 
reading, in his hand. 

'This is my corner/ he said, smiling and flushing 
a little, as his friend moved up to him. ' Perhaps you 
don't know that I too am engaged upon a great work/ 

'A great work you?' 

Langham looked at his companion as though to find 
out whether his remark was meant seriously or 
whether he might venture to be cynical. Elsmere 
writing! Why should everybody write books? It was 
absurd ! The scholar who knows what toll scholarship 
takes of life is always apt to resent the intrusion of the 
man of action into his domains. It looks to him like a 
kind of ridiculous assumption that any one d'un cceur 
leger can do what has cost him his heart's blood. 
[ 354 ] 


Robert understood something of the meaning of his 
tone, and replied almost apologetically ; he was always 
singularly modest about himself on the intellectual 

'Well, Grey is responsible. He gave me such a 
homily before I left Oxford on the absolute necessity 
of keeping up with books, that I could do nothing less 
than set up a "subject" at once. "Half the day," he 
used to say to me, " you will be king of your world ; 
the other half be the slave of something which will take 
you out of your world into the general world"; and 
then he would quote to me that saying he was always 
bringing into lectures I forget whose it is " The 
decisive events of the world take place in the intellect. It 
is the mission of books that they help one to remember 
it." Altogether it was striking, coming from one who 
has always had such a tremendous respect for practical 
life and work, and I was much impressed by it. So 
blame him ! ' 

Langham was silent. Elsmere had noticed that any 
allusion to Grey found Langham less and less respons- 

'Well, what is the "great work"?' he said at last,, 

'Historical. Oh, I should have written something 
without Grey ; I have always had a turn for it since I 
was a child. But he was clear that history was espe- 
cially valuable especially necessary to a clergyman. 
I felt he was right, entirely right. So I took my Final 
Schools' history for a basis, and started on the Empire, 
especially the decay of the Empire. Some day I mean 
to take up one of the episodes in the great birth of 
[ 355 ] 


Europe the makings of France, I think, most likely. 
It seems to lead farthest and tell most. I have been 
at work now nine months/ 

'And are just getting into it?' 

'Just about. I have got down below the surface, 
and am beginning to feel the joys of digging'; and 
Robert threw back his head with one of his most 
brilliant enthusiastic smiles. ' I have been shy about 
boring you with the thing, but the fact is, I am very 
keen indeed ; and this library has been a godsend ! ' 

'So I should think.' Langham sat down on one of 
the carved wooden stools placed at intervals along the 
bookcases and looked at his friend, his psychological 
curiosity rising a little. 

'Tell me/ he said presently 'tell me what inter- 
ests you specially what seizes you in a subject 
like the making of France, for instance?' 

'Do you really want to know?' said Robert, in- 

The other nodded. Robert left his place, and began 
to walk up and down, trying to answer Langham 's 
question, and at the same time to fix in speech a num- 
ber of sentiments and impressions bred in him by the 
work of the past few months. After a while Langham 
began to see his way. Evidently the forces at the bot- 
tom of this new historical interest were precisely the 
same forces at work in Elsmere's parish plans, in his 
sermons, in his dealings with the poor and the young 
forces of imagination and sympathy. What was 
enchaining him to this new study was not, to begin 
with, that patient love of ingenious accumulation 
which is the learned temper proper, the temper, in 
[ 356 ] 


short, of science. It was simply a passionate sense of 
the human problems which underlie all the dry and 
dusty detail of history and give it tone and colour, a 
passionate desire to rescue something more of human 
life from the drowning, submerging past, to realise for 
himself and others the solidarity and continuity of 
mankind's long struggle from the beginning until now. 
Langham had had much experience of Elsmere's 
versatility and pliancy, but he had never realised it so 
much as now, while he sat listening to the vivid, many- 
coloured speech getting quicker and quicker, and more 
and more telling and original as Robert got more 
absorbed and excited by what he had to say. He was 
endeavouring to describe to Langham the sort of book 
he thought might be written on the rise of modern 
society in Gaul, dwelling first of all on the outward 
spectacle of the blood-stained Frankish world as it 
was, say, in the days of Gregory the Great, on its 
savage kings, its fiendish women, its bishops and its 
saints ; and then, on the conflict of ideas going on be- 
hind all the fierce incoherence of the Empire's decay, 
the struggle of Roman order and German freedom, 
of Roman luxury with German hardness; above all, 
the war of orthodoxy and heresy, with its strange 
political complications. And then, discontented still, 
as though the heart of the matter were still untouched, 
he went on, restlessly wandering the while, with his 
long arms linked behind him, 'throwing out' words at 
an object in his mind, trying to grasp and analyse that 
strange sense which haunts the student of Rome's 
decline as it once overshadowed the infancy of Europe, 
- as of a slowly departing majesty, a great presence 
[ 357 ] 


just withdrawn, and still incalculably potent, trace- 
able throughout in that humbling consciousness of 
Goth or Frank that they were but 'beggars hutting 
in a palace the place had harboured greater men 
than they!' 

'There is one thing/ Langham said presently, in his 
slow nonchalant voice, when the tide of Robert's ar- 
dour ebbed for a moment, 'that does n't seem to have 
touched you yet. But you will come to it. To my 
mind, it makes almost the chief interest of history. It 
is just this. History depends on testimony. What is 
the nature and the value of testimony at given times? 
In other words, did the man of the third century un- 
derstand, or report, or interpret facts in the same way 
as the man of the sixteenth or the nineteenth? And if 
not, what are the differences, and what are the deduc- 
tions to be made from them, if any?' He fixed his 
keen look on Robert, who was now lounging against 
the books, as though his harangue had taken it out of 
him a little. 

'Ah, well,' said the rector, smiling, 'I am only just 
coming to that. As I told you, I am only now begin- 
ning to dig for myself. Till now it has all been work at 
second-hand. I have been getting a general survey 
of the ground as quickly as I could with the help of 
other men's labours. Now I must go to work inch by 
inch, and find out what the ground is made of. I won't 
forget your point. It is enormously important, I grant 
enormously,' he repeated reflectively. 

'I should think it is,' said Langham to himself as 
he rose; 'the whole of orthodox Christianity is in it, 
for instance ! ' 

[ 358 ] 


There was not much more to be seen. A little 
wooden staircase led from the second library to the 
upper rooms, curious old rooms, which had been an- 
nexed one by one as the squire wanted them, and in 
which there was nothing at all neither chair, nor 
table, nor carpet but books only. All the doors 
leading from room to room had been taken off; the 
old worm-eaten boards had been roughly stained; a 
few old French engravings had been hung here and 
there where the encroaching books left an opening; 
but otherwise all was bare. There was a curious charm 
in the space and air of these empty rooms, with their 
latticed windows opening on to the hill, and letting 
in day by day the summer sun-risings or the winter 
dawns, which had shone upon them for more than 
three centuries. 

'This is my last day of privilege/ said Robert. 
' Everybody is shut out, when once he appears, from 
this wing, and this part of the grounds. This was his 
father's room/ and the rector led the way into the last 
of the series; 'and through there/ pointing to a door 
on the right, 'lies the way to his own sleeping-room, 
which is of course connected with the more modern 
side of the house/ 

' So this is where that old man ventured "what Cato 
did and Addison approved," 7 murmured Langham, 
standing in the middle of the room and looking round 
him. This particular room was now used as a sort of 
lumber place, a receptacle for the superfluous or use- 
less books gradually thrown off by the great collection 
all around. There were innumerable volumes in frayed 
or broken bindings lying on the ground. A musty 
[ 359 ] 


smell hung over it all; the grey light from outside, 
which seemed to give only an added subtlety and 
charm to the other portions of the ancient building 
through which they had been moving, seemed here 
triste and dreary. Or Langham fancied it. 

He passed the threshold again with a little sigh, and 
saw suddenly before him at the end of the suite of 
rooms, and framed in the doorways facing him, an 
engraving of a Greuze picture a girl's face turned 
over her shoulder, the hair waving about her temples, 
the lips parted, the teeth gleaming, mirth and pro- 
vocation and tender yielding in every line. Langham 
started, and the blood rushed to his heart. It was as 
though Rose herself stood there and beckoned to him. 


Now, having seen our sight/ said Robert, as they left 
the great mass of Murewell behind them, 'come and 
see our scandal. Both run by the same proprietor, if 
you please. There is a hamlet down there in the hol- 
low' and he pointed to a grey speck in the distance 

-'which deserves a Royal Commission all to itself, 
which is a disgrace' and his tone warmed 'to any 
country, any owner, any agent! It is owned by Mr. 
Wendover, and I see the pleasing prospect straight 
before me of beginning my acquaintance with him by 
a fight over it. You will admit that it is a little hard 
on a man who wants to live on good terms with the 
possessor of the Murewell library to have to open re- 
lations with him by a fierce attack on his drains and 
his pig-sties.' 

He turned to his companion with a half-rueful spark 
of laughter in his grey eyes. Langham hardly caught 
what he said. He was far away in meditations of his 

'An attack,' he repeated vaguely; 'why an attack?' 

Robert plunged again into the great topic of which 
his quick mind was evidently full. Langham tried to 
listen, but was conscious that his friend's social en- 
thusiasms bored him a great deal. And side by side 
with the consciousness there slid in a little stinging 
reflexion that four years ago no talk of Elsmere's 
could have bored him. 

[ 361 ] 


'What's the matter with this particular place?' 
he asked languidly, at last, raising his eyes towards 
the group of houses now beginning to emerge from the 

An angry red mounted in Robert's cheek. 

'What is n't the matter with it? The houses, which 
were built on a swamp originally, are falling into ruin ; 
the roofs, the drains, the accommodation per head, are 
all about equally scandalous. The place is harried with 
illness ; since I came there have been both fever and 
diphtheria there. They are all crippled with rheum- 
atism, but that they think nothing of; the English 
labourer takes rheumatism as quite in the day's bar- 
gain ! And as to vice the vice that comes of mere 
endless persecuting opportunity I can tell you one's 
ideas of personal responsibility get a good deal shaken 
up by a place like this! And I can do nothing. I 
brought over Henslowe to see the place, and he be- 
haved like a brute. He scoffed at all my complaints, 
said that no landlord would be such a fool as to build 
fresh cottages on such a site, that the old ones must 
just be allowed to go to ruin ; that the people might 
live in them if they chose, or turn out of them if they 
chose. Nobody forced them to do either ; it was their 
own look-out.' 

'That was true/ said Langham, 'was n't it?' 

Robert turned upon him fiercely. 

'Ah! you think it so easy for those poor creatures 
to leave their homes, their working-places! Some of 
them have been there thirty years. They are close to 
the two or three farms that employ them, close to the 
osier beds which give them extra earnings in the spring. 
[ 362 ] 


If they were turned out there is nothing nearer than 
Murewell, and not a single cottage to be found there. 
I .don't say it is a landlord's duty to provide more 
cottages than are wanted ; but if the labour is wanted, 
the labourer should be decently housed. He is worthy 
of his hire, and woe to the man who neglects or ill- 
treats him ! ' 

Langham could not help smiling, partly at the ve- 
hemence of the speech, partly at the lack of adjust- 
ment between his friend's mood and his own. He 
braced himself to take the matter more seriously, but 
meanwhile Robert had caught the smile, and his angry 
eyes melted at once into laughter. 

'There I am, ranting as usual/ he said penitently. 
'Took you for Henslowe, I suppose! Ah, well, never 
mind. I hear the Provost has another book on the 

So they diverged into other things, talking politics 
and new books, public men and what not, till, at the 
end of a long and gradual descent through wooded 
ground, some two miles to the northwest of the park, 
they emerged from the trees beneath which they had 
been walking, and found themselves on a bridge, a 
grey sluggish stream flowing beneath them, and the 
hamlet they sought rising among the river flats on 
the farther side. 

'There,' said Robert, stopping, 'we are at our 
journey's end. Now then, what sort of a place of 
human habitation do you call that ?' 

The bridge whereon they stood crossed the main 
channel of the river, which just at that point, however, 
parted into several branches, and came meandering 
[ 363 ] 


slowly down through a little bottom or valley, filled 
with osier beds, long since robbed of their year's 
growth of shoots. On the other side of the river, on 
ground all but level with the osier beds which inter- 
posed between them and the stream, rose a miserable 
group of houses, huddled together as though their 
bulging walls and rotten roofs could only maintain 
themselves at all by the help and support which each 
wretched hovel gave to its neighbour. The mud walls 
were stained with yellow patches of lichen, the palings 
round the little gardens were broken and ruinous. 
Close beside them all was a sort of open drain or water- 
course, stagnant and noisome, which dribbled into 
the river a little above the bridge. Behind them rose 
a high gravel bank edged by firs, and a line of oak trees 
against the sky. The houses stood in the shadow of 
the bank looking north, and on this grey, lowering 
day, the dreariness, the gloom, the squalor of the 
place were indescribable. 

'Well/that is a God-forsaken hole!' said Langham, 
studying it, his interest roused at last, rather, perhaps, 
by the Ruysdael-like melancholy and picturesqueness 
of the scene than by its human suggestiveness. 'I 
could hardly have imagined such a place existed in 
Southern England. It is more like a bit of Ireland/ 

' If it were Ireland it might be to somebody's interest 
to ferret it out/ said Robert bitterly. 'But these poor 
folks are out of the world. They may be brutalised 
with impunity. Oh, such a case as I had here last 
autumn! A young girl of sixteen or seventeen, who 
would have been healthy and happy anywhere else, 
stricken by the damp and the poison of the place, 
[ 364 ] 


dying in six weeks, of complications due to nothing 
in the world but preventable cruelty and neglect ! It 
was a sight that burnt into my mind, once for all, 
what is meant by a landlord's responsibility. I tried, 
of course, to move her, but neither she nor her parents 
- elderly folk had energy enough for a change. 
They only prayed to be let alone. I came over the last 
evening of her life to give her the communion. "Ah, 
sir!" said the mother to me not bitterly that is 
the strange thing, they have so little bitterness "if 
Mister 'Enslowe would jest 'a mended that bit o' roof 
of ours last winter, Bessie need n't have laid in the 
wet so many nights as she did, and she coughin' fit to 
break your heart, for all the things yer could put over 


Robert paused, his strong young face, so vehemently 
angry a few minutes before, tremulous with feeling. 
'Ah, well/ he said at last with a long breath, moving 
away from the parapet of the bridge on which he had 
been leaning, 'better be oppressed than oppressor, any 
day! Now, then, I must deliver my stores. There's 
a child here Catherine and I have been doing our best 
to pull through typhoid/ 

They crossed the bridge and turned down the track 
leading to the hamlet. Some planks carried them 
across the ditch, the main sewer of the community, as 
Robert pointed out, and they made their way through 
the filth surrounding one of the nearest cottages. 

A feeble elderly man, whose shaking limbs and sal- 
low bloodless skin made him look much older than he 
actually was, opened the door and invited them to 
come in. Robert passed on into an inner room, con- 
[ 365 ] 


ducted thither by a woman who had been sitting 
working over the fire. Langham stood irresolute ; but 
the old man's quavering ' Kindly take a chair, sir ; you 
've come a long way/ decided him, and he stepped in. 
Inside the hovel was miserable indeed. It belonged 
to that old and evil type which the efforts of the last 
twenty years have done so much all over England to 
sweep away : four mud walls, enclosing an oblong space 
about eight yards long, divided into two unequal por- 
tions by a lath and plaster partition, with no upper 
storey, a thatched roof, now entirely out of repair, and 
letting in the rain in several places, and a paved floor 
little better than the earth itself, so large and cavern- 
ous were the gaps between the stones. The dismal 
place had no small adornings none of those little 
superfluities which, however ugly and trivial, are still 
so precious in the dwellings of the poor, as showing 
the existence of some instinct or passion which is not 
the creation of the sheerest physical need ; and Lang- 
ham, as he sat down, caught the sickening marsh smell 
which the Oxford man, accustomed to the odours of 
damp meadows in times of ebbing flood and festering 
sun, knows so well. As old Milsom began to talk to 
him in his weak tremulous voice, the visitor's atten- 
tion was irresistibly held by the details about him. 
Fresh as he was from all the delicate sights, the har- 
monious colours and delightful forms of the squire's 
house, they made an unusually sharp impression on 
his fastidious senses. What does human life become 
lived on reeking floors and under stifling roofs like 
these? What strange abnormal deteriorations, phys- 
ical and spiritual, must it not inevitably undergo? 
[ 366 ] 


Langham felt a sudden inward movement of disgust 
and repulsion. 'For heaven's sake, keep your super- 
stitions ! ' he could have cried to the whole human race, 
' or any other narcotic that a grinding fate has left you. 
What does anything matter to the mass of mankind 
but a little ease, a little lightening of pressure on this 
side or on that?' 

Meanwhile the old man went maundering on, talk- 
ing of the weather, and of his sick child, and 'Mr. 
Elsmere/ with a kind of listless incoherence which 
hardly demanded an answer, though Langham threw 
in a word or two here and there. 

Among other things, he began to ask a question or 
two about Robert's predecessor, a certain Mr. Preston, 
who had left behind him a memory of amiable evan- 
gelical indolence. 

' Did you see much of him?' he asked. 

'Oh law, no, sir!' replied the man, surprised into 
something like energy. ' Never seed 'im more 'n once 
a year, and sometimes not that!' 

'Was he liked here?' 

'Well, sir, it was like this, you see. My wife, she's 
North-country, she is, comes from Yorkshire; some- 
times she'd used to say to me, "Passon 'ee ain't much 
good, and passon 'ee ain't much harm. 'Ee's no more 
good nor more 'arm, so fer as I can see, nor a chip in 
a basin o' parritch." And that was just about it, sir,' 
said the old man, pleased for the hundredth time with 
his wife's bygone flight of metaphor and his own exact 
memory of it. 

As to the rector's tendance of his child, his tone was 
very cool and guarded. 

[ 367 ] 


' It do seem strange, sir, as nor he nor Doctor Grimes 
'ull let her have anything to put a bit of flesh on her, 
nothin' but them messy things as he brings milk 
an' that. An' the beef jelly lor', such a trouble ! 
Missis Elsmere, he tells my wife, strains all the stuff 
through a cloth, she do; never seed anythin' like it, 
nor my wife neither. People is clever nowadays/ said 
the speaker dubiously. 

Langham realised that, in this quarter of his parish 
at any rate, his friend's pastoral vanity, if he had any, 
would not find much to feed on. Nothing, to judge 
from this specimen at least, greatly affected an inhabit- 
ant of Mile End. Gratitude, responsiveness, imply 
health and energy, past or present. The only constant 
defence which the poor have against such physical con- 
ditions as those which prevailed at Mile End is apathy. 

As they came down the dilapidated steps at the 
cottage door, Robert drew in with avidity a long 
draught of the outer air. 

' Ugh ! ' he said with a sort of groan, ' that bedroom ! 
Nothing gives one such a sense of the toughness of 
human life as to see a child recovering, actually re- 
covering, in such a pestilential den ! Father, mother, 
grown-up son, girl of thirteen, and grandchild, all 
huddled in a space just fourteen feet square. Lang- 
ham!' and he turned passionately on his companion, 
'what defence can be found for a man who lives in a 
place like Murewell Hall, and can take money from 
human beings for the use of a sty like that?' 

' Gently, my friend. Probably the squire, being the 
sort of recluse he is, has never seen the place, or, at 
any rate, not for years, and knows nothing about it ! ' 
[ 368 ] 


'More shame for him!' 

'True in a sense/ said Langham, a little drily; 'but 
as you may want hereafter to make excuses for your 
man, and he may give you occasion, I would n't begin 
by painting him to yourself any blacker than need be/ 

Robert laughed, sighed and acquiesced. 'I am a 
hot-headed, impatient kind of creature at the best of 
times/ he confessed. 'They tell me that great things 
have been done for the poor round here in the last 
twenty years. Something has been done, certainly. 
But why are the old ways, the old evil neglect and 
apathy, so long, so terribly long in dying? This social 
progress of ours we are so proud of is a clumsy limping 
jade at best ! ' 

They prowled a little more about the hamlet, every 
step almost revealing some new source of poison and 
disease. Of their various visits, however, Langham 
remembered nothing afterwards but a little scene in 
a miserable cottage, where they found a whole family 
party gathered round the midday meal. A band of 
puny, black, black-eyed children were standing or 
sitting at the table. The wife, confined of twins three 
weeks before, sat by the fire, deathly pale, a 'bad leg' 
stretched out before her on some improvised support, 
one baby on her lap and another dark-haired bundle 
asleep in a cradle beside her. There was a pathetic 
pinched beauty about the whole family. Even the 
tiny twins were comparatively shapely ; all the other 
children had delicate transparent skins, large eyes, and 
small colourless mouths. The father, a picturesque 
handsome fellow, looking as though he had gipsy blood 
in his veins, had opened the door to their knock. 
[ 369 ] 


Robert, seeing the meal, would have retreated at once, 
in spite of the children's shy inviting looks, but a glance 
past them at the mother's face checked the word of 
refusal and apology on his lips, and he stepped in. 

In after years Langham was always apt to see him 
in imagination as he saw Him then, standing beside 
the bent figure of the mother, his quick pitiful eyes 
taking in the pallor and exhaustion of face and frame, 
his hand resting instinctively on the head of a small 
creature that had crept up beside him, his look all 
attention and softness as the woman feebly told him 
some of the main facts of her state. The young rector 
at the moment might have stood for the modern ' Man 
of Feeling/ as sensitive, as impressionable, and as free 
from the burden of self, as his eighteenth-century 

On the way home Robert suddenly remarked to his 
companion, 'Have you heard my sister-in-law play 
yet, Langham? What did you think of it? 7 

' Extraordinary ! ' said Langham briefly. ' The most 
considerable gift I ever came across in an amateur/ 

His olive cheek flushed a little involuntarily. Robert 
threw a quick observant look at him. 

'The difficulty/ he exclaimed, 'is to know what to 
do with it !' 

'Why do you make the difficulty? I gather she 
wants to study abroad. What is there to prevent it?' 

Langham turned to his companion with a touch of 
asperity. He could not stand it that Elsmere should 
be so much narrowed and warped by that wife of his, 
and her prejudices. Why should that gifted creature 
be cribbed, cabined, and confined in this way? 
[ 370 ] 


' I grant you,' said Robert, with a look of perplexity, 
'there is not much to prevent it.' 

And he was silent a moment, thinking, on his side, 
very tenderly of all the antecedents and explanations 
of that old-world distrust of art and the artistic life 
so deeply rooted in his wife, even though in practice 
and under his influence she had made concession after 

'The great solution of all,' he said presently, bright- 
ening, 'would be to get her married. I don't wonder 
her belongings dislike the notion of anything so pretty 
and so flighty going off to live by itself. And to break 
up the home in Whindale would be to undo every- 
thing their father did for them, to defy his most solemn 
last wishes/ 

' To talk of a father's wishes, in a case of this kind, 
ten years after his death, is surely excessive?' said 
Langham, with dry interrogation; then, suddenly 
recollecting himself, ' I beg your pardon, Elsmere. I am 

'Nonsense,' said Robert brightly. 'I don't wonder 
it seems like a difficulty of our own making. Like so 
many difficulties, it depends on character, present 
character, bygone character ' And again he fell 
musing on his Westmoreland experiences, and on the 
intensity of that Puritan type it had revealed to him. 
'However, as I said, marriage would be the natural 
way out of it.' 

'An easy way, I should think,' said Langham, after 
a pause. 

' It won't be so easy to find the right man. She is a 
young person with a future, is Miss Rose. She wants 
[ 371 ] 


somebody in the stream ; somebody with a strong hand 
who will keep her in order and yet give her a wide 
range; a rich man, I think she has n't the ways of 
a poor man's wife; but, at any rate, some one who will 
be proud of her, and yet have a full life of his own in 
which she may share/ 

'Your views are extremely clear/ said Langham, 
and his smile had a touch of bitterness in it. ' If hers 
agree, I prophesy you won't have long to wait. She 
has beauty, talent, charm everything that rich and 
important men like/ 

There was the slightest sarcastic note in the voice. 
Robert winced. It was borne in upon one of the least 
worldly of mortals that he had been talking like the 
veriest schemer. What vague quick impulse had 
driven him on? 

By the time they emerged again upon the Murewell 
Green the rain had cleared altogether away, and the 
autumnal morning had broken into sunshine, which 
played mistily on the sleeping woods, on the white 
fronts of the cottages, and the wide green where the 
rain-pools glistened. On the hill leading to the rectory 
there was the flutter of a woman's dress, As they 
hurried on, afraid of being late for luncheon, they saw 
that it was Rose in front of them. 

Langham started as the slender figure suddenly 
defined itself against the road. A tumult within, half 
rage, half feeling, showed itself only in an added rigid- 
ity of the finely-cut features. 

Rose turned directly she heard the steps and voices, 
and over the dreaminess of her face there flashed a 
sudden brightness. 

[ 372 ] 


'You have been a long time!' she exclaimed, saying 
the first thing that came into her head, joyously, rashly, 
like the child she in reality was. ' How many halt and 
maimed has Robert taken you to see, Mr. Langham?' 

'We went to Murewell first. The library was well 
worth seeing. Since then we have been a parish round, 
distributing stores/ 

Rose's look changed in an instant. The words were 
spoken by the Langham of her earliest acquaintance. 
The man who that morning had asked her to play to 
him had gone vanished away. 

' How exhilarating ! ' she said scornfully. ' Don't you 
wonder how any one can ever tear themselves away 
from the country?' 

'Rose, don't be abusive/ said Robert, opening his 
eyes at her tone. Then, passing his arm through hers, 
he looked banteringly down upon her. 'For the first 
time since you left the metropolis you have walked 
yourself into a colour. It's becoming and it's 
Murewell so be civil !' 

' Oh, nobody denies you a high place in milkmaids ! ' 
she said, with her head in air and they went off 
into a minute's sparring. 

Meanwhile Langham, on the other side of the road, 

walked up slowly, his eyes on the ground. Once, when 

Rose's eye caught him, a shock ran through her. There 

was already a look of slovenly age about his stooping 

bookworm's gait. Her companion of the night before 

-handsome, animated, human where was he? 

The girl's heart felt a singular contraction. Then she 

turned and rent herself, and Robert found her more 

mocking and sprightly than ever. 

[ 373 ] 


At the rectory gate Robert ran on to overtake a 
farmer on the road. Rose stooped to open the latch; 
Langham mechanically made a quick movement for- 
ward to anticipate her. Their fingers touched; she 
drew hers hastily away and passed in, an erect and 
dignified figure, in her curving garden-hat. 

Langham went straight up to his room, shut the 
door, and stood before the open window, deaf and 
blind to everything save an inward storm of sensation. 

' Fool ! Idiot ! ' he said to himself at last, with fierce 
stifled emphasis, while a kind of dumb fury with him- 
self and circumstance swept through him. 

That he, the poor and solitary student whose only 
sources of self-respect lay in the deliberate limitations, 
the reasoned and reasonable renunciations he had 
imposed upon his life, should have needed the reminder 
of his old pupil not to fall in love with his brilliant 
ambitious sister ! His irritable self -consciousness enor- 
mously magnified Elsmere's motive and Elsmere's 
words. That golden vagueness and softness of temper 
which had possessed him since his last sight of her gave 
place to one of bitter tension. 

With sardonic scorn he pointed out to himself that 
his imagination was still held by, his nerves were still 
thrilling under, the mental image of a girl looking up 
to him as no woman had ever looked a girl, white- 
armed, white-necked with softened eyes of appeal 
and confidence. He bade himself mark that during 
the whole of his morning walk with Robert down to its 
last stage, his mind had been really absorbed in some 
preposterous dream he was now too self-contemptuous 
to analyse. Pretty well for a philosopher, in four days ! 
[ 374 ] 


What a ridiculous business is life what a contempt- 
ible creature is man, how incapable of dignity, of 
consistency ! 

At luncheon he talked rather more than usual, 
especially on literary matters with Robert. Rose, too, 
was fully occupied in giving Catherine a sarcastic 
account of a singing-lesson she had been administering 
in the school that morning. Catherine winced some- 
times at the tone of it. 

That afternoon Robert, in high spirits, his rod over 
his shoulder, his basket at his back, carried off his 
guest for a lounging afternoon along the river. Els- 
mere enjoyed these fishing expeditions like a boy. 
They were his holidays, relished all the more because 
he kept a jealous account of them with his conscience. 
He sauntered along, now throwing a cunning and 
effectual fly, now resting, smoking, and chattering, 
as the fancy took him. He found a great deal of the 
old stimulus and piquancy in Langham 's society, but 
there was an occasional irritability in his companion, 
especially towards himself personally, which puzzled 
him. After a while, indeed, he began to feel himself 
the unreasonably cheerful person which he evidently 
appeared to his companion. A mere ignorant enthusi- 
ast, banished for ever from the realm of pure know- 
ledge by certain original and incorrigible defects - 
after a few hours' talk with Langham Robert's quick 
insight always showed him some image of himself 
resembling this in his friend's mind. 

At last he turned restive. He had been describing 
to Langham his acquaintance with the Dissenting 
minister of the place a strong coarse-grained fellow 
[ 375 ] 


of sensuous excitable temperament, famous for his 
noisy 'conversion meetings/ and for a gymnastic 
dexterity in the quoting and combining of texts, un- 
rivalled in Robert's experience. Some remark on the 
Dissenter's logic, made, perhaps, a little too much in 
the tone of the Churchman conscious of University 
advantages, seemed to irritate Langham. 

' You think your Anglican logic in dealing with the 
Bible so superior ! On the contrary, I am all for your 
Ranter. He is your logical Protestant. Historically, 
you Anglican parsons are where you are and what you 
are, because Englishmen, as a whole, like attempting 
the contradictory like, above all, to eat their cake 
and have it. The nation has made you and maintains 
you for its own purposes. But that is another matter/ 

Robert smoked on a moment in silence. Then he 
flushed and laid down his pipe. 

'We are all fools in your eyes, I know! A la "bonne 
heure ! I have been to the University, and talk what 
he is pleased to call "philosophy" therefore Mr. 
Colson denies me faith. You have always, in your 
heart of hearts, denied me knowledge. But I cling to 
both in spite of you.' 

There was a ray of defiance, of emotion, in his look. 
Langham met it in silence. 

'I deny you nothing/ he said at last, slowly. 'On 
the contrary, I believe you to be the possessor of all 
that is best worth having in life and mind/ . 

His irritation had all died away. His tone was one 

of indescribable depression, and his great black eyes 

were fixed on Robert with a melancholy which startled 

his companion. By a subtle transition Elsmere felt 

[ 376 ] 


himself touched with a pang of profound pity for the 
man who an instant before had seemed to pose as his 
scornful superior. He stretched out his hand, and laid 
it on his friend's shoulder. 

Rose spent the afternoon in helping Catherine with 
various parochial occupations. In the course of them 
Catherine asked many questions about Long Whin- 
dale. Her thoughts clung to the hills, to the grey 
farmhouses, the rough men and women inside them. 
But Rose gave her small satisfaction. 

'Poor old Jim Backhouse!' said Catherine, sighing. 
'Agnes tells me he is quite bedridden now/ 

'Well, and a good thing for John, don't you think/ 
said Rose briskly, covering a parish library book the 
while in a way which made Catherine's fingers itch 
to take it from her, 'and for us? It's some use having 
a carrier now/ 

Catherine made no reply. She thought of the 
'noodle' fading out of life in the room where Mary 
Backhouse died ; she actually saw the white hair, the 
blurred eyes, the palsied hands, the poor emaciated 
limbs stretched along the settle. Her heart rose, but 
she said nothing. 

'And has Mrs. Thornburgh been enjoying her sum- 

'Oh! I suppose so/ said Rose, her tone indicating 
a quite measureless indifference. 'She had another 
young Oxford man staying with her in June a 
missionary and it annoyed her very much that 
neither Agnes nor I would intervene to prevent his 
resuming his profession. She seemed to think it was 
[ 377 ] 


a question of saving him from being eaten, and 
apparently he would have proposed to either of us/ 

Catherine could not help laughing. 'I suppose she 
still thinks she married Robert and me.' 

'Of course. So she did/ 

Catherine coloured a little; but Rose's hard lightness 
of tone was unconquerable. 

'Or if she didn't/ Rose resumed, 'nobody could 
have the heart to rob her of the illusion. Oh, by the 
way, Sarah has been under warning since June ! Mrs. 
Thornburgh told her desperately that she must either 
throw over her young man, who was picked up drunk 
at the vicarage gate one night, or vacate the vicarage 
kitchen. Sarah cheerfully accepted her month's notice, 
and is still making the vicarage jams and walking 
out with the young man every Sunday. Mrs. Thorn- 
burgh sees that it will require a convulsion of Nature 
to get rid either of Sarah or the young man, and has 

'And the Tysons? And that poor Walker girl?' 

' Oh, dear me, Catherine ! ' said Rose, a strange dis- 
proportionate flash of impatience breaking through. 
'Every one in Long Whindale is always just where 
and what they were last year. I admit they are born 
and die, but they do nothing else of a decisive kind/ 

Catherine's hands worked away for a while, then she 
laid down her book and said, lifting her clear large 
eyes on her sister, 

'Was there never a time when you loved the valley, 

'Never!' cried Rose. 

Then she pushed away her work, and leaning her 
[ 378 ] 


elbows on the table turned her brilliant face to Cath- 
erine. There was frank mutiny in it. 

'By the way, Catherine, are you going to prevent 
mamma from letting me go to Berlin for the winter ?' 

'And after Berlin, Rose?' said Catherine, presently, 
her gaze bent upon her work. 

'After Berlin? What next?' said Rose recklessly. 
'Well, after Berlin I shall try to persuade mamma and 
Agnes, I suppose, to come and back me up in London. 
We could still be some months of the year at Bur- 

Now she had said it out. But there was something 
else surely goading the girl than mere intolerance of 
the family tradition. The hesitancy, the moral doubt 
of her conversation with Langham, seemed to have 
vanished wholly in a kind of acrid self-assertion. 

Catherine felt a shock sweep through her. It was 
as though all the pieties of life, all the sacred assump- 
tions and self-surrenders at the root of it, were shaken, 
outraged by the girl's tone. 

'Do you ever remember,' she said, looking up, while 
her voice trembled, 'what papa wished when he was 

It was her last argument. To Rose she had very 
seldom used it in so many words. Probably, it seemed 
to her too strong, too sacred, to be often handled. 

But Rose sprang up, and pacing the little workroom 
with her white wrists locked behind her, she met that 
argument with all the concentrated passion which her 
youth had for years been storing up against it. Cath- 
erine sat presently overwhelmed, bewildered. This 
language of a proud and tameless individuality, this 
[ 379 ] 


modern gospel of the divine right of self -development 
-her soul loathed it! And yet, since that night in 
Marrisdale, there had been a new yearning in her to 

Suddenly, however, Rose stopped, lost her thread. 
Two figures were crossing the lawn, and their shadows 
were thrown far beyond them by the fast disappear- 
ing sun. 

She threw herself down on her chair again with an 

' Do you see they have come back? We must go and 

And as she spoke she was conscious of a new sensa- 
tion altogether the sensation of the wild creature 
lassoed on the prairie, of the bird exchanging in an 
instant its glorious freedom of flight for the pitiless 
meshes of the net. It was stifling her whole nature 
seemed to fight with it. 

Catherine rose and began to put away the books 
they had been covering. She had said almost nothing 
in answer to Rose's tirade. When she was ready she 
came and stood beside her sister a moment, her lips 
trembling. At last she stooped and kissed the girl - 
the kiss of deep suppressed feeling and went away. 
Rose made no response. 

Unmusical as she was, Catherine pined for her sis- 
ter's music that evening. Robert was busy in his 
study, and the hours seemed interminable. After a 
little difficult talk Langham subsided into a book and 
a corner. But the only words of which he was con- 
scious for long were the words of an inner dialogue. 
' I promised to play for her. Go and offer then ! 
[ 380 ] 


Madness ! let me keep away from her. If she asks me, 
of course I will go. She is much too proud, and already 
she thinks me guilty of a rudeness/ 

Then, with a shrug, he would fall to his book again, 
abominably conscious, however, all the while of the 
white figure between the lamp and the open window, 
and of the delicate head and cheek lit up against the 
trees and the soft August dark. 

When the time came to go to bed he got their can- 
dles for the two ladies. Rose just touched his hand 
with cool fingers. 

'Good-night, Mr. Langham. You are going in to 
smoke with Robert, I suppose?' 

Her bright eyes seemed to look him through. Their 
mocking hostility seemed to say to him as plainly as 
possible : ' Your purgatory is over go, smoke and 
be happy!' 

' I will go and help him wind up his sermon/ he said, 
with an attempt at a laugh, and moved away. 

Rose went upstairs, and it seemed to her that a 
Greek brow, and a. pair of wavering melancholy eyes, 
went before her in the darkness, chased along the pass- 
ages by the light she held. She gained her room, and 
stood by the window, seized again by that stifling 
sense of catastrophe, so strange, so undefined. Then 
she shook it off with an angry laugh, and went to work 
to see how far her stock of light dresses had suffered 
by her London dissipations. 


THE next morning after breakfast the rectory party 
were in the garden the gentlemen smoking, Cath- 
erine and her sister strolling arm-in-arm among the 
flowers. Catherine's vague terrors of the morning be- 
fore had all taken to themselves wings. It seemed to 
her that Rose and Mr. Langham had hardly spoken 
to each other since she had seen them walking about 
together. Robert had already made merry over his 
own alarms, and hers, and she admitted he was in the 
right. As to her talk with Rose her deep meditative 
nature was slowly working upon and digesting it. 
Meanwhile, she was all tenderness to her sister, and 
there was even a reaction of pity in her heart towards 
the lonely sceptic who had once been so good to Robert. 

Robert was just bethinking himself that it was time 
to go off to the school, when they were all startled by 
an unexpected visitor a short old lady, in a rusty 
black dress and bonnet, who entered the drive and 
stood staring at the rectory party, a tiny hand in a 
black thread glove shading the sun from a pair of 
wrinkled eyes. 

'Mrs. Darcy!' exclaimed Robert to his wife after 
a moment's perplexity, and they walked quickly to 
meet her. 

Rose and Langham exchanged a few common- 
places till the others joined them, and then for a while 
the attention of everybody in the group was held by 
[ 382 ] 


the squire's sister. She was very small, as thin and 
light as thistle-down, ill-dressed, and as communicat- 
ive as a babbling child. The face and all the features 
were extraordinarily minute, and moreover, blanched 
and etherealised by age. She had the elfish look of a 
little withered fairy godmother. And yet through it 
all it was clear that she was a great lady. There were 
certain poses and gestures about her, which made her 
thread gloves and rusty skirts seem a mere whim and 
masquerade, adopted, perhaps deliberately, from a 
high-bred love of congruity, to suit the country lanes. 

She had come to ask them all to dinner at the Hall 
on the following evening, and she either brought or 
devised on the spot the politest messages from the 
squire to the new rector, which pleased the sensitive 
Robert and silenced for the moment his various mis- 
givings as to Mr. Wendover's advent. Then she stayed 
chattering, studying Rose every now and then out of 
her strange little eyes, restless and glancing as a bird's, 
which took stock also of the garden, of the flower- 
beds, of Elsmere's lanky frame, and of Elsmere's hand- 
some friend in the background. She was most odd 
when she was grateful, and she was grateful for the 
most unexpected things. She thanked Elsmere effus- 
ively for coming to live there, 'sacrificing yourself 
so nobly to us country folk/ and she thanked him, 
with an appreciative glance at Langham, for having 
his clever friends to stay with him. 'The squire will 
be so pleased. My brother, you know, is very clever ; 
oh yes, frightfully clever ! ' 

And then there was a long sigh, at which Elsmere 
could hardly keep his countenance. 
[ 383 ] 


She thought it particularly considerate of them to 
have been to see the squire's books. It would make 
conversation so easy when they came to dinner. 

'Though I don't know anything about his books. 
He does n't like women to talk about books. He says 
they only pretend even the clever ones. Except, 
of course, Madame de Stae'l. He can only say she was 
ugly, and I don't deny it. But I have about used up 
Madame de Stae'l,' she added, dropping into another 
sigh as soft and light as a child's. 

Robert was charmed with her, and even Langham 
smiled. And as Mrs. Darcy adored 'clever men,' rank- 
ing them, as the London of her youth had ranked 
them, only second to 'persons of birth,' she stood 
among them beaming, becoming more and more 
whimsical and inconsequent, more and more deli- 
ciously incalculable, as she expanded. At last she flut- 
tered off, only, however, to come hurrying back, with 
little, short, scudding steps, to implore them all to 
come to tea with her as soon as possible in the garden 
that was her special hobby, and in her last new sum- 

'I build two or three every summer,' she said. 
'Now, there are twenty-one! Roger laughs at me,' 
and there was a momentary bitterness in the little 
eerie face, 'but how can one live without hobbies? 
That's one then I've two more. My album oh, 
you will all write in my album, won't you? When I 
was young when I was Maid of Honour' - - and she 
drew herself up slightly 'everybody had albums. 
Even the dear Queen herself! I remember how she 
made M. Guizot write in it; something quite stupid, 
[ 384 ] 


after all. Those hobbies the garden and the album 
are quite harmless, aren't they? They hurt no- 
body, do they? 7 Her voice dropped a little, with a 
pathetic expostulating intonation in it, as of one ac- 
customed to be rebuked. 

'Let me remind you of a saying of Bacon's/ said 
Langham, studying her, and softened perforce into 

'Yes, yes/ said Mrs. Darcy in a flutter of curiosity. 

/God Almighty first planted a garden/ he quoted; 
'and indeed, it is the purest of all human pleasures.' 

'Oh, but how delightful /' cried Mrs. Darcy, clasping 
her diminutive hands in their thread gloves. 'You 
must write that in my album, Mr. Langham, that very 
sentence ; oh, how clever of you to remember it ! What 
it is to be clever and have a brain ! But, then I 've 
another hobby - 

Here, however, she stopped, hung her head and 
looked depressed. Robert, with a little ripple of laugh- 
ter, begged her to explain. 

'No/ she said plaintively, giving a quick uneasy 
look at him, as though it occurred to her that it might 
some day be his pastoral duty to admonish her. ' No, 
it's wrong. I know it is only I can't help it. Never 
mind. You'll know soon.' 

And again she turned away, when, suddenly, Rose 
attracted her attention, and she stretched out a thin 
white bird-claw of a hand and caught the girl's arm. 

'There won't be much to amuse you to-morrow, 

my dear, and there ought to be you're so pretty!' 

Rose blushed furiously and tried to draw her hand 

away. 'No, no! don't mind, don't mind. I did n't at 

[ 385 ] 


your age. Well, we '11 do our best. But your own party 
is so charming!' and she looked round the little 
circle, her gaze stopping specially at Langham before 
it returned to Rose. 'After all, you will amuse each 

Was there any malice in the tiny withered creature? 
Rose, unsympathetic and indifferent as youth com- 
monly is when its own affairs absorb it, had stood coldly 
outside the group which was making much of the 
squire's sister. Was it so the strange little visitor 
revenged herself? 

At any rate Rose was left feeling as if some one had 
pricked her. While Catherine and Elsmere escorted 
Mrs. Darcy to the gate she turned to go in, her head 
thrown back stag-like, her cheek still burning. Why 
should it be always open to the old to annoy the young 
with impunity? 

Langham watched her mount the first step or two ; 
his eye travelled up the slim figure so instinct with 
pride and will and something in him suddenly gave 
way. It was like a man who feels his grip relaxing on 
some attacking thing he has been holding by the 

He followed her hastily. 

'Must you go in? And none of us have paid our 
respects yet to those phloxes in the back garden?' 

woman flighty woman ! An instant before, the 
girl, sore and bruised in every fibre, she only half- 
knew why, was thirsting that this man might some- 
how offer her his neck that she might trample on it. 
He offers it, and the angry instinct wavers, as a man 
wavers in a wrestling-match when his opponent un- 
[ 386 ] 


expectedly gives ground. She paused, she turned her 
white throat. His eyes upturned met hers. 

'The phloxes, did you say?' she asked, coolly re- 
descending the steps. 'Then round here, please/ 

She led the way, he followed, conscious of an utter 
relaxation of nerve and will which for the moment had 
somethiag intoxicating in it. 

'There are your phloxes/ she said, stopping before 
a splendid line of plants in full blossom. Her self- 
respect was whole again ; her spirits rose at a bound. 
'I don't know why you admire them so much. They 
have no scent, and they are only pretty in the lump/ 
and she broke off a spike of blossom, studied it a little 
disdainfully, and threw it away. 

He stood beside her, the southern glow and life of 
which it was intermittently capable once more light- 
ing up the strange face. 

' Give me leave to enjoy everything countrified more 
than usual/ he said. 'After this morning it will be so 
long before I see the true country again/ 

He looked, smiling, round on the blue-and-white 
brilliance of the sky, clear again after a night of rain ; 
on the sloping garden, on the village beyond, on the 
hedge of sweet peas close beside them, with its blooms 

* On tiptoe for a flight, 
With wings of gentle flush o'er delicate white.' 

'Oh! Oxford is countrified enough/ she said indif- 
ferently, moving down the broad grass path which 
divided the garden into two equal portions. 

'But I am leaving Oxford, at any rate for a year/ 
he said quietly. 'I am going to London/ 
[ 387 ] 


Her delicate eyebrows went up. 'To London?' 
Then, in a tone of mock meekness and sympathy, 
'How you will dislike it! 7 

'Dislike it why?' 

'Oh! because* she hesitated, and then laughed 
her daring girlish laugh - - 'because there are so many 
stupid people in London ; the clever people are not all 
picked out like prize apples, as I suppose they are in 

'At Oxford?' repeated Langham, with a kind of 
groan. 'At Oxford? You imagine that Oxford is in- 
habited only by clever people?' 

' I can only judge by what I see/ she said demurely. 
' Every Oxford man always behaves as if he were the 
cream of the universe. Oh ! I don't mean to be rude,' 
she cried, losing for a moment her defiant control over 
herself, as though afraid of having gone too far. ' I 
am not the least disrespectful, really. When you and 
Robert talk, Catherine and I feel quite as humble as 
we ought.' 

The words were hardly out before she could have 
bitten the tongue that spoke them. He had made her 
feel her indiscretions of Sunday night as she deserved 
to feel them, and now after three minutes' conversa- 
tion she was on the verge of fresh ones. Would she 
never grow up, never behave like other girls? That 
word humble ! It seemed to burn her memory. 

Before he could possibly answer she barred the way 
by a question as short and dry as possible 

'What are you going to London for?' 

'For many reasons,' he said, shrugging his shoul- 
ders. 'I have told no one yet not even Elsmere. 
[ 388 ] 


And indeed I go back to my rooms for a while from 
here. But as soon as Term begins I become a Lon- 

They had reached the gate at the bottom of the 
garden, and were leaning against it. She was disturbed, 
conscious, lightly flushed. It struck her as another 
gaucherie on her part that she should have questioned 
him as to his plans. What did his life matter to 

He was looking away from her, studying the half- 
ruined, degraded manor-house spread out below them. 
Then suddenly he turned 

'If I could imagine for a moment it would interest 
you to hear my reasons for leaving Oxford, I could 
not flatter myself you would see any sense in them. 
I know that Robert will think them moonshine ; nay, 
more, that they will give him pain/ 

He smiled sadly. The tone of gentleness, the sud- 
den breach in the man's melancholy reserve affected 
the girl beside him for the second time, precisely as 
they had affected her the first time. The result of 
twenty-four hours' resentful meditation turned out 
to be precisely nil. Her breath came fast, her proud 
look melted, and his quick sense caught the change 
in an instant. 

'Are you tired of Oxford?' the poor child asked him, 
almost shyly. 

' Mortally ! ' he said, still smiling. ' And what is more 
important still, Oxford is tired of me. I have been 
lecturing there for ten years. They have had more 
than enough of me/ 

'Oh! but Robert said ' began Rose impetuously, 
[ 389 ] 


then stopped, crimson, remembering many things 
Robert had said. 

'That I helped him over a few stiles?' returned 
Langham calmly. 'Yes, there was a time when I was 
capable of that there was a time when I could teach, 
and teach with pleasure/ He paused. Rose could 
have scourged herself for the tremor she felt creeping 
over her. Why should it be to her so new and strange 
a thing that a man, especially a man of these years 
and this calibre, should confide in her, should speak 
to her intimately of himself? After all, she said to 
herself angrily, with a terrified sense of importance, 
she was a child no longer, though her mother and sis- 
ters would treat her as one. 'When we were chatting 
the other night/ he went on, turning to her again as 
he stood leaning on the gate, 'do you know what it 
was struck me most?' 

His tone had in it the most delicate, the most friendly 
deference. But Rose flushed furiously. 

'That girls are very ready to talk about themselves, 
I imagine/ she said scornfully. 

' Not at all ! Not for a moment ! No, but it seemed 
to me so pathetic, so strange that anybody should 
wish for anything so much as you wished for the 
musician's life/ 

'And you never wish for anything?' she cried. 

'When Elsmere was at college/ he said, smiling, 
'I believe I wished he should get a first class. This 
year I have certainly wished to say good-bye to St. 
Anselm's, and to turn my back for good and all on my 
men. I can't remember that I have wished for any- 
thing else for six years.' 

[ 390 3 


She looked at him perplexed. Was his manner 
merely languid, or was it from him that the emotion 
she felt invading herself first started? She tried to 
shake it off. 

'And I am just a bundle of wants/ she said, half- 
mockingly. ' Generally speaking I am in the condition 
of being ready to barter all I have for some folly or 
other one in the morning, another in the afternoon. 
What have you to say to such people, Mr. Langham?' 

Her eyes challenged him magnificently, mostly out 
of sheer nervousness. But the face they rested on 
seemed suddenly to turn to stone before her. The life 
died out of it. It grew still and rigid. 

'Nothing/ he said quietly. 'Between them and 
me there is a great gulf fixed. I watch them pass, and 
I say to myself : " There are the living that is how 
they look, how they speak! Realise once for all that 
you have nothing to do with them. Life is theirs 
belongs to them. You are already outside it. Go your 
way, and be a spectre among the active and the happy 
no longer." 5 

He leant his back against the gate. Did he see her? 
Was he conscious of her at all in this rare impulse of 
speech which had suddenly overtaken one of the most 
withdrawn and silent of human beings? All her airs 
dropped off her; a kind of fright seized her; and in- 
voluntarily she laid her hand on his arm. 

'Don't don't Mr. Langham! Oh, don't say 
such things! Why should you be so unhappy? Why 
should you talk so? Can no one do anything? Why 
do you live so much alone? Is there no one you care 

[ 391 ] 


He turned. What a vision! His artistic sense ab- 
sorbed it in an instant the beautiful tremulous lip, 
the drawn white brow. For a moment he drank in the 
pity, the emotion, of those eyes. Then a movement of 
such self-scorn as even he had never felt swept through 
him. He gently moved away; her hand dropped. 

'Miss Leyburn/ he said, gazing at her, his olive face 
singularly pale, 'don't waste your pity on me, for 
Heaven's sake. Some madness made me behave as 
I did just now. Years ago the same sort of idiocy 
betrayed me to your brother; never before or since. 
I ask your pardon, humbly/ and his tone seemed to 
scorch her, 'that this second fit of ranting should have 
seized me in your presence/ 

But he could not keep it up. The inner upheaval 
had gone too far. He stopped and looked at her 
piteously, the features quivering. It was as though 
the man's whole nature had for the moment broken up, 
become disorganised. She could not bear it. Some 
ghastly infirmity seemed to have been laid bare to her. 
She held out both her hands. Swiftly he caught them, 
stooped, kissed them, let them go. It was an extraor- 
dinary scene to both a kind of lifetime. 

Then he gathered himself together by a mighty 

'That was adorable of you/ he said with a long 
breath. 'But I stole it I despise myself. Why 
should you pity me? What is there to pity me for? 
My troubles, such as I have, are my own making - 
every one/ 

And he laid a sort of vindictive emphasis on the 
words. The tears of excitement were in her eyes. 
[ 392 ] 


'Won't you let me be your friend?' she said, trem- 
bling, with a kind of reproach. ' I thought the other 
night we were to be friends. Won't you tell me ' 

'More of yourself?' her eyes said, but her voice failed 
her. And as for him, as he gazed at her, all the acci- 
dents of circumstance, of individual character, seemed 
to drop from her. He forgot the difference of years; 
he saw her no longer as she was a girl hardly out of 
the schoolroom, vain, ambitious, dangerously respons- 
ive, on whose crude romantic sense he was wantonly 
playing; she was to him pure beauty, pure woman. 
For one tumultuous moment the cold critical instinct 
which had been for years draining his life of all its 
natural energies was powerless. It was sweet to yield, 
to speak, as it had never been sweet before. 

So, leaning over the gate, he told her the story of 
his life, of his cramped childhood and youth, of his 
brief moment of happiness and success at college, of 
his first attempts to make himself a power among 
younger men, of the gradual dismal failure of all his 
efforts, the dying down of desire and ambition. From 
the general narrative there stood out little pictures 
of individual persons or scenes, clear-cut and masterly 
- of his father, the Gainsborough churchwarden ; of 
his Methodistical mother, who had all her life lamented 
her own beauty as a special snare of Satan, and who 
since her husband's death had refused to see her son 
on the ground that his opinions 'had vexed his father' ; 
of his first ardent worship of knowledge, and passion 
to communicate it; and of the first intuitions in 
lecture, face to face with an undergraduate, alone in 
college rooms, sometimes alone on Alpine heights, of 
'[ 393 ] 


something cold, impotent and baffling in himself, 
which was to stand for ever between him and action, 
between him and human affection ; the growth of the 
critical pessimist sense which laid the axe to the root 
of enthusiasm after enthusiasm, friendship after 
friendship which made other men feel him inhuman, 
intangible, a skeleton at the feast ; and the persistence 
through it all of a kind of hunger for life and its satis- 
factions, which the will was more and more powerless 
to satisfy : all these Langham put into words with an 
extraordinary magic and delicacy of phrase. There 
was something in him which found a kind of pleasure 
in the long analysis, which took pains that it should 
be infinitely well done. 

Rose followed him breathlessly. If she had known 
more of literature she would have realised that she was 
witnessing a masterly dissection of one of those many 
morbid growths of which our nineteenth century 
psychology is full. But she was anything but literary, 
and she could not analyse her excitement. The man's 
physical charm, his melancholy, the intensity of what 
he said, affected, unsteadied her as music was apt to 
affect her. And through it all there was the strange 
girlish pride that this should have befallen her; a first 
crude intoxicating sense of the power over human 
lives which was to be hers, mingled with a desperate 
anxiety to be equal to the occasion, to play her part 

'So you see/ said Langham at last, with a great 
effort (to do him justice) to climb back on to some 
ordinary level of conversation; 'all these transcenden- 
talisms apart, I am about the most unfit man in the 
[ 394 ] 


world for a college tutor. The undergraduates regard 
me as a shilly-shallying pedant. On my part, ' he added 
drily, ' I am not slow to retaliate. Every term I live I 
find the young man a less interesting animal. I regard 
the whole university system as a wretched sham. 
Knowledge! It has no more to do with knowledge 
than my boots/ 

And for one curious instant he looked out over the 
village, his fastidious scholar's soul absorbed by some 
intellectual irritation, of which Rose understood abso- 
lutely nothing. She stood bewildered, silent, longing 
childishly to speak, to influence him, but not knowing 
what cue to take. 

'And then' he went on presently (but was the 
strange being speaking to her?) 'so long as I stay 
there, worrying those about me, and eating my own 
heart out, I am cut off from the only life that might 
be mine, that I might find the strength to live/ 

The words were low and deliberate. After his mo- 
ment of passionate speech, and hers of passionate sym- 
pathy, she began to feel strangely remote from him. 

'Do you mean the life of the student?' she asked 
him after a pause, timidly. 

Her voice recalled him. He turned and smiled at her. 

'Of the dreamer, rather/ 

And as her eyes still questioned, as he was still 
moved by the spell of her responsiveness, he let the 
new wave of feeling break in words. Vaguely at first, 
and then with a growing flame and force, he fell to 
describing to her what the life of thought may be 
to the thinker, and those marvellous moments which 
belong to that life when the mind which has divorced 
[ 395 J 


itself from desire and sense sees spread out before it 
the vast realms of knowledge, and feels itself close to 
the secret springs and sources of being. And as he 
spoke, his language took an ampler turn, the element 
of smallness which attaches to all mere personal com- 
plaint vanished, his words flowed, became eloquent, 
inspired, till the bewildered child beside him, warm 
through and through as she was with youth and pas- 
sion, felt for an instant by sheer fascinated sympathy 
the cold spell, the ineffable prestige, of the thinker's 
voluntary death in life. 

But only for an instant. Then the natural sense of 
chill smote her to the heart. 

'You make me shiver/ she cried, interrupting him. 
'Have those strange things I don't understand 
them made you happy? Can they make any one 
happy? Oh no, no! Happiness is to be got from living, 
seeing, experiencing, making friends, enjoying Nature ! 
Look at the world, Mr. Langham!' she said, with 
bright cheeks, half-smiling at her own magniloquence, 
her hand waving over the view before them. 'What 
has it done that you should hate it so? If you can't 
put up with people you might love Nature. I I can't 
be content with Nature, because I want some life first. 
Up in Whindale there is too much Nature, not enough 
life. But if I had got through life if it had disap- 
pointed me then I should love Nature. I keep say- 
ing to the mountains at home : " Not now, not now; I 
want something else, but afterwards if I can't get it, 
or if I get too much of it, why then I will love you, 
live with you. You are my second string, my reserve. 
You and art and poetry." 3 
[ 396 ] 


'But everything depends on feeling/ he said softly, 
but lightly, as though to keep the conversation from 
slipping back into those vague depths it had emerged 
from; 'and if one has forgotten how to feel if when 
one sees or hears something beautiful that used to stir 
one, one can only say, "I remember it moved me 
once!" if feeling dies, like life, like physical force, 
but prematurely, long before the rest of the man ! ' 

She gave a long quivering sigh of passionate anta- 

' Oh, I cannot imagine it ! ' she cried. ' I shall feel to 
my last hour/ Then, after a pause, in another tone, 
' But, Mr. Langham, you say music excites you, Wag- 
ner excites you?' 

'Yes, a sort of strange second life I can still get out 
of music/ he admitted, smiling. 

'Well then/ and she looked at him persuasively, 
'why not give yourself up to music? It is so easy so 
little trouble to one's self it just takes you and car- 
ries you away/ 

Then, for the first time, Langham became conscious 
probably through these admonitions of hers that 
the situation had absurdity in it. 

' It is not my metier,' he said hastily. ' The self that 
enjoys music is an outer self, and can only bear with 
it for a short time. No, Miss Leyburn, I shall leave 
Oxford, the College will sing a Te Deum, I shall settle 
down in London, I shall keep a big book going, and 
cheat the years after all, I suppose, as well as most 

' And you will know, you will remember, ' she said fal- 
tering, reddening, her womanliness forcing the words 
[ 397 ] 


out of her, 'that you have friends : Robert my sis- 
ter all of us?' 

He faced her with a little quick movement. And 
as their eyes met each was struck once more with the 
personal beauty of the other. His eyes shone their 
black depths seemed all tenderness. 

' I will never forget this visit, this garden, this hour/ 
he said slowly, and they stood looking at each other. 
Rose felt herself swept off her feet into a world of 
tragic mysterious emotion. She all but put her hand 
into his again, asking him childishly to hope, to be 
consoled. But the maidenly impulse restrained her, 
and once more he leant on the gate, burying his face in 
his hands. 

Suddenly he felt himself utterly tired, relaxed. 
Strong nervous reaction set in. What had all this 
scene, this tragedy, been about? And then in another 
instant was that sense of the ridiculous again clam- 
ouring to be heard. He the man of thirty-five 
confessing himself, making a tragic scene, playing 
Manfred or Cain to this adorable half-fledged creature, 
whom he had known five days! Supposing Elsmere 
had been there to hear Elsmere with his sane eye, 
his laugh ! As he leant over the gate he found himself 
quivering with impatience to be away by himself - 
out of reach the critic in him making the most bitter 
remorseless mock of all these heroics and despairs the 
other self had been indulging in. But for the life of 
him he could not find a word to say a move to make. 
He stood hesitating, gauche, as usual. 

'Do you know, Mr. Langham/ said Rose lightly, by 
his side, 'that there is no time at all left for you to give 
[ 398 ] 


me good advice in? That is an obligation still hanging 
over you. I don't mean to release you from it, but if 
I don't go in now and finish the covering of those 
library books, the youth of Murewell will be left with- 
out any literature till Heaven knows when!' 

He could have blessed her for the tone, for the es- 
cape into common mundanity. 

'Hang literature hang the parish library!' he 
said with a laugh as he moved after her. Yet his real 
inner feeling towards that parish library was one of 
infinite friendliness. 

'Hear these men of letters!' she said scornfully. 
But she was happy ; there was a glow on her cheek. 

A bramble caught her dress; she stopped and laid 
her white hand to it, but in vain. He knelt in an in- 
stant, and between them they wrenched it away, but 
not till those soft slim fingers had several times felt 
the neighbourhood of his brown ones, and till there 
had flown through and through him once more, as she 
stooped over him, the consciousness that she was 
young, that she was beautiful, that she had pitied him 
so sweetly, that they were alone. 


It was Catherine calling Catherine, who stood at 
the end of the grass path with eyes all indignation 
and alarm. 

Langham rose quickly from the ground. 

He felt as though the gods had saved him or 
damned him which? 


M.UREWELL Rectory during the next forty-eight 
hours was the scene of much that might have been 
of interest to a psychologist gifted with the power of 
divining his neighbours. 

In the first place Catherine's terrors were all alive 
again. Robert had never seen her so moved since those 
days of storm and stress before their engagement. 

'I cannot bear it!' she said to Robert at night in 
their room. ' I cannot bear it ! I hear it always in my 
ears: "What hast thou done with thy sister?" Oh, 
Robert, don't mind, dear, though he is your friend. 
My father would have shrunk from him with horror 
An alien from the household of faith! An enemy to the 
Cross of Christ!' 

She flung out the words with low intense emphasis 
and frowning brow, standing rigid by the window, her 
hands locked behind her. Robert stood by her much 
perplexed, feeling himself a good deal of a culprit, but 
inwardly conscious that he knew a great deal more 
about Langham than she did. 

'My dear wifie,' he said to her, 'I am certain Lang- 
ham has no intention of marrying/ 

'Then more shame for him/ cried Catherine, flush- 
ing. 'They could not have looked more conscious, 
Robert, when I found them together, if he had just 

'What, in five days?' said Robert, more than half- 
[ 400 ] 


inclined to banter his wife. Then he fell into medi- 
tation as Catherine made no answer. ' I believe with 
men of that sort/ he said at last, 'relations to women 
are never more than half -real always more or less 
literature acting. Langham is tasting an experi- 
ence, to be bottled up for future use/ 

It need hardly be said, however, that Catherine got 
small consolation out of this point of view. It seemed 
to her Robert did not take the matter quite rightly. 

'After all, darling/ he said at last, kissing her, 'you 
can act dragon splendidly ; you have already so can 
I. And you really cannot make me believe in any- 
thing very tragic in a week/ 

But Catherine was conscious that she had already 
played the dragon hard, to very little purpose. In the 
forty hours that intervened between the scene in the 
garden and the squire's dinner-party, Robert was al- 
ways wanting to carry off Langham, Catherine was 
always asking Rose's help in some household business 
or other. In vain. Langham said to himself calmly, 
this time, that Elsmere and his wife were making a 
foolish mistake in supposing that his friendship with 
Miss Leyburn was anything to be alarmed about, that 
they would soon be amply convinced of it themselves, 
and meanwhile he should take his own way. And as 
for Rose, they had no sooner turned back all three 
from the house to the garden than she had divined 
everything in Catherine's mind, and set herself against 
her sister with a wilful force in which many a past 
irritation found expression. 

How Catherine hated the music of that week! It 
seemed to her she never opened the drawing-room 
[ 401 ] 


door but she saw Langham at the piano, his head with 
its crown of glossy, curling black hair, and his eyes 
lit with unwonted gleams of laughter and sympathy, 
turned towards Rose, who was either chatting wildly 
to him, mimicking the airs of some professional, or 
taking off the ways of some famous teacher; or else, 
which was worse, playing with all her soul, flooding 
the house with sound now as soft and delicate as 
first love, now as full and grand as storm-waves on an 
angry coast. And the sister going with compressed lip 
to her work-table would recognise sorely that never 
had the girl looked so handsome, and never had the 
lightnings of a wayward genius played so finely about 

As to Langham, it may well be believed that after 
the scene in the garden he had rated, satirised, ex- 
amined himself in the most approved introspective 
style. One half of him declared that scene to have 
been the heights of melodramatic absurdity ; the other 
thought of it with a thrill of tender gratitude towards 
the young pitiful creature who had evoked it. After 
all, why, because he was alone in the world and must 
remain so, should he feel bound to refuse this one gift 
of the gods, the delicate passing gift of a girl's a 
child's friendship? As for her, the man's very real, 
though wholly morbid, modesty scouted the notion 
of love on her side. He was a likely person for a beauty 
on the threshold of life and success to fall in love with ; 
but she meant to be kind to him, and he smiled a little 
inward indulgent smile over her very evident compas- 
sion, her very evident intention of reforming him, 
reconciling him to life. And, finally, he was incapable 
[ 402 ] 


of any further resistance. He had gone too far with 
her. Let her do what she would with him, dear child, 
with the sharp tongue and the soft heart, and the 
touch of genius and brilliancy which made her future 
so interesting! He called his age and his disillusions 
to the rescue ; he posed to himself as stooping to her 
in some sort of elder-brotherly fashion; and if every 
now and then some disturbing memory of that strange 
scene between them would come to make his present 
role less plausible, or some whim of hers made it diffi- 
cult to play, why then at bottom there was always the 
consciousness that sixty hours, or thereabouts, would 
see him safely settled in that morning train to Lon- 
don. Throughout it is probable that that morning 
train occupied the saving background of his thoughts. 
The two days passed by, and the squire's dinner- 
party arrived. About seven on the Thursday evening 
a party of four might have been seen hurrying across 
the park Langham and Catherine in front, Elsmere 
and Rose behind. Catherine had arranged it so, and 
Langham, who understood perfectly that his friend- 
ship with her young sister was not at all to Mrs. Els- 
mere's taste, and who had by now taken as much of 
a dislike to her as his nature was capable of, was cer- 
tainly doing nothing to make his walk with her other- 
wise than difficult. And every now and then some 
languid epigram would bring Catherine's eyes on him 
with a fiery gleam in their grey depths. Oh, fourteen 
more hours and she would have shut the rectory gate 
on this most unwelcome of intruders ! She had never 
felt so vindictively anxious to see the last of any one in 
her life. There was in her a vehemence of antagonism 
[ 403 ] 


to the man's manner, his pessimism, his infidelity, his 
very ways of speaking and looking, which astonished 
even herself. 

Robert's eager soul meanwhile, for once irresponsive 
to Catherine's, was full of nothing but the squire. At 
last the moment was come, and that dumb spiritual 
friendship he had formed through these long months 
with the philosopher and the savant was to be tested 
by sight and speech of the man. He bade himself 
a hundred times pitch his expectations low. But 
curiosity and hope were keen, in spite of everything. 

Ah, those parish worries ! Robert caught the smoke 
of Mile End in the distance, curling above the twilight 
woods, and laid about him vigorously with his stick 
on the squire's shrubs, as he thought of those poison- 
ous hovels, those ruined lives ! But, after all, it might 
be mere ignorance, and that wretch Henslowe might 
have been merely trading on his master's morbid love 
of solitude. 

And then all men have their natural conceits. 
Robert Elsmere would not have been the very human 
creature he was if, half-consciously, he had not counted 
a good deal on his own powers of influence. Life had 
been to him so far one long social success of the best 
kind. Very likely as he walked on to the great house 
over whose threshold lay the answer to the enigma of 
months, his mind gradually filled with some naive 
young dream of winning the squire, playing him with 
all sorts of honest arts, beguiling him back to life to 
his kind. 

Those friendly messages of his through Mrs. Darcy 
had been very pleasant. 

[ 404 ] 


'I wonder whether my Oxford friends have been 
doing me a good turn with the squire/ he said to Rose, 
laughing. ' He knows the Provost, of course. If they 
talked me over it is to be hoped my scholarship did n't 
come up. Precious little the Provost used to think of 
my abilities for Greek prose ! ' 

Rose yawned a little behind her gloved hand. Rob- 
ert had already talked a good deal about the squire, 
and he was certainly the only person in the group 
who was thinking of him. Even Catherine, absorbed 
in other anxieties, had forgotten to feel any thrill 
at their approaching introduction to the man who 
must of necessity mean so much to herself and Robert. 

'Mr. and Mrs. Robert Elsmere,' said the butler, 
throwing open the carved and gilded doors. 

Catherine following her husband, her fine grave 
head and beautiful neck held a little more erect than 
usual was at first conscious of nothing but the 
dazzle of western light which flooded the room, striking 
the stands of Japanese lilies, and the white figure of 
a clown in the famous Watteau opposite the window. 

Then she found herself greeted by Mrs. Darcy, 
whose odd habit of holding her lace handkerchief in 
her right hand on festive occasions only left her two 
fingers for her guests. The mistress of the Hall as 
diminutive and elf-like as ever in spite of the added 
dignity of her sweeping silk and the draperies of black 
lace with which her tiny head was adorned kept 
tight hold of Catherine, and called a gentleman stand- 
ing in a group just behind her. 

' Roger, here are Mr. and Mrs. Robert Elsmere. Mr. 
[ 405 ] 


Elsmere, the squire remembers you in petticoats, and 
I'm not sure that I don't too/ 

Robert, smiling, looked beyond her to the advanc- 
ing figure of the squire, but if Mr. Wendover heard 
his sister's remark he took no notice of it. He held out 
his hand stiffly to Robert, bowed to Catherine and 
Rose before extending to them the same formal greet- 
ing, and just recognised Langham as having met him 
at Oxford. 

Having done so he turned back to the knot of peo- 
ple with whom he had been engaged on their entrance. 
His manner had been reserve itself. The hauteur of the 
grandee on his own ground was clearly marked in it, 
and Robert could not help fancying that towards 
himself there had even been something more. And 
not one of those phrases which, under the circum- 
stances, would have been so easy and so gracious, as 
to Robert's childish connexion with the place, or as to 
the squire's remembrance of his father, even though 
Mrs. Darcy had given him a special opening of the 

The young rector instinctively drew himself to- 
gether, like one who has received a blow, as he moved 
across to the other side of the fireplace to shake hands 
with the worthy family doctor, old Meyrick, who was 
already well known to him. Catherine, in some dis- 
comfort, for she too had felt their reception at the 
squire's hands to be a chilling one, sat down to talk 
to Mrs. Darcy, disagreeably conscious the while that 
Rose and Langham left to themselves were practi- 
cally tete-a-tete, and that, moreover, a large stand of 
flowers formed a partial screen between her and them. 
[ 406 ] 


She could see, however, the gleam of Rose's upstretched 
neck, as Langham, who was leaning on the piano be- 
side her, bent down to talk to her ; and when she looked 
next she caught a smiling motion of Langham 's head 
and eyes towards the Romney portrait of Mr. Wend- 
over 's grandmother, and was certain, when he stooped 
afterwards to say something to his companion, that 
he was commenting on a certain surface likeness there 
was between her and the young auburn-haired beauty 
of the picture. Hateful! And they would be sent 
down to dinner together to a certainty. 

The other guests were Lady Charlotte Wynnstay, 
a cousin of the squire a tall, imperious, loud-voiced 
woman, famous in London society for her relation- 
ships, her audacity, and the salon which in one way 
or another she managed to collect round her ; her dark, 
thin, irritable-looking husband ; two neighbouring cler- 
icsthe first, by name Longstaffe, a somewhat inferior 
specimen of the cloth, whom Robert cordially disliked ; 
and the other, Mr. Bickerton, a gentle Evangelical, 
one of those men who help to ease the harshness of 
a cross-grained world, and to reconcile the cleverer or 
more impatient folk in it to the worries of living. 

Lady Charlotte was already known by name to the 
Elsmeres as the aunt of one of their chief friends of 
the neighbourhood the wife of a neighbouring 
squire whose property joined that of Murewell Hall, 
one Lady Helen Varley, of whom more presently. 
Lady Charlotte was the sister of the Duke of Sed- 
bergh, one of the greatest of dukes, and the sister 
also of Lady Helen's mother, Lady Wanless. Lady 
Wanless had died prematurely, and her two younger 
[ 407 ] 


children, Helen and Hugh Flaxman, creatures both of 
them of unusually fine and fiery quality, had owed a 
great deal to their aunt. There were family alliances 
between the Sedberghs and the Wendovers, and Lady 
Charlotte made a point of keeping up with the squire. 
She adored cynics and people who said piquant things, 
and it amused her to make her large tyrannous hand 
felt by the squire's timid, crack-brained, ridiculous 
little sister. 

As to Dr. Meyrick, he was tall and gaunt as Don 
Quixote. His grey hair made a ragged fringe round 
his straight-backed head; he wore an old-fashioned 
neck-cloth ; his long body had a perpetual stoop, as 
though of deference, and his spectacled look of mild 
attentiveness had nothing in common with that med- 
ical self-assurance with which we are all nowadays 
so familiar. Robert noticed presently that when he 
addressed Mrs. Darcy he said 'Ma'am/ making no 
bones at all about it; and his manner generally was 
the manner of one to whom class distinctions were the 
profoundest reality, and no burden at all on a natur- 
ally humble temper. Dr. Baker, of Whindale, accus- 
tomed to trouncing Mrs. Seaton, would have thought 
him a poor creature. 

When dinner was announced, Robert found him- 
self assigned to Mrs. Darcy; the squire took Lady 
Charlotte. Catherine fell to Mr. Bickerton, Rose to 
Mr. Wynnstay, and the rest found their way in as 
best they could. Catherine seeing the distribution 
was happy for a moment, till she found that if 
Rose was covered on her right she was exposed to 
the full fire of the enemy on her left, in other words 
[ 408 ] 


that Langham was placed between her and Dr. Mey- 

'Are your spirits damped at all by this magni- 
ficence?' Langham said to his neighbour as they sat 
down. The table was entirely covered with Japanese 
lilies, save for the splendid silver candelabra from 
which the light flashed, first on to the faces of the 
guests, and then on to those of the family portraits, 
hung thickly round the room. A roof embossed with 
gilded Tudor roses on a ground of black oak hung 
above them; a rose-water dish in which the Merry 
Monarch had once dipped his hands, and which bore 
a record of the fact in the inscription on its sides, stood 
before them; and the servants were distributing to 
each guest silver soup-plates which had been the gift 
of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, in some moment 
of generosity or calculation, to the Wendover of her 

'Oh dear, no!' said Rose carelessly. 'I don't know 
how it is, I think I must have been born for a palace/ 

Langham looked at her, at the daring harmony of 
colour made by the reddish gold of her hair, the warm 
whiteness of her skin, and the brown-pink tints of her 
dress, at the crystals playing the part of diamonds on 
her beautiful neck, and remembered Robert's remarks 
to him. The same irony mingled with the same bit- 
terness returned to him, and the elder brother's at- 
titude became once more temporarily difficult. ' Who 
is your neighbour?' he inquired of her presently. 

'Lady Charlotte's husband,' she answered mis- 
chievously, under her breath. ' One need n't know 
much more about him, I imagine ! ' 
[ 409 ] 


'And that man opposite?' 

'Robert's pet aversion/ she said calmly, without 
a change of countenance, so that Mr. Longstaffe op- 
posite, who was studying her as he always studied 
pretty young women, stared at her through her re- 
mark in sublime ignorance of its bearing. 

'And your sister's neighbour?' 

'I can't hit him off in a sentence, he's too good!' 
said Rose, laughing; 'all I can say is that Mrs. Bicker- 
ton has too many children, and the children have too 
many ailments for her ever to dine out.' 

'That will do; I see the existence,' said Langham, 
with a shrug. 'But he has the look of an apostle, 
though a rather hunted one. Probably nobody here, 
except Robert, is fit to tie his shoes.' 

'The squire could hardly be called empresse,' said 
Rose, after a second, with a curl of her red lips. Mr. 
Wynnstay was still safely engaged with Mrs. Darcy, 
and there was a buzz of talk largely sustained by Lady 

'No,' Langham admitted; 'the manners I thought 
were not quite equal to the house.' 

'What possible reason could he have for treating 
Robert with those airs?' said Rose indignantly, ready 
enough in girl fashion to defend her belongings against 
the outer w)rld. 'He ought to be only too glad to 
have the opportunity of knowing him and making 
friends with him.' 

'You are a sister worth having'; and Langham 

smiled at her as she leant back in her chair, her white 

arms and wrists lying on her lap, and her slightly 

flushed face turned towards him. They had been on 

f 410 ] 


these pleasant terms of camaraderie all day, and the 
intimacy between them had been still making strides. 

' Do you imagine I don't appreciate Robert because 
I make bad jokes about the choir and the clothing 
club?' she asked him, with a little quick repentance 
passing like a shadow through her eyes. 'I always 
feel I play an odious part here. I can't like it I 
can't their life. I should hate it! And yet ' 

She sighed remorsefully, and Langham, who five 
minutes before could have wished her to be always 
smiling, could now have almost asked to fix her as 
she was : the eyes veiled, the soft lips relaxed in this 
passing instant of gravity. 

'Ah! I forgot' and she looked up again with 
light bewitching appeal --' there is still that ques- 
tion, my poor little question of Sunday night, when 
I was in that fine moral frame of mind and you were 
near giving me, I believe, the only good advice you 
ever gave in your life how shamefully you have 
treated it!' 

One brilliant look, which Catherine for her torment 
caught from the other side of the table, and then in 
an instant the quick face changed and stiffened. Mr. 
Wynnstay was speaking to her, and Langham was 
left to the intermittent mercies of Dr. Meyrick, who 
though glad to talk, was also quite content, appar- 
ently, to judge from the radiant placidity of his look, 
to examine his wine, study his menu, and enjoy his 
entrees in silence, undisturbed by the uncertain pleas- 
ures of conversation. 

Robert, meanwhile, during the first few minutes, 
in which Mr. Wynnstay had been engaged in some 
[ 411 ] 


family talk with Mrs. Darcy, had been allowing him- 
self a little deliberate study of Mr. Wendover across 
what seemed the safe distance of a long table. The 
squire was talking shortly and abruptly, yet with 
occasional flashes of shrill ungainly laughter, to Lady 
Charlotte, who seemed to have no sort of fear of him 
and to find him good company, and every now and 
then Robert saw him turn to Catherine on the other 
side of him, and with an obvious change of manner 
address some formal and constrained remark to her. 

Mr. Wendover was a man of middle height and loose 
bony frame, of which, as Robert had noticed in the 
drawing-room, all the lower half had a thin and 
shrunken look. But the shoulders, which had the 
scholar's stoop, and the head were massive and 
squarely outlined. The head was specially remarkable 
for its great breadth and comparative flatness above 
the eyes, and for the way in which the head itself 
dwarfed the face, which, as contrasted with the large 
angularity of the skull, was somewhat pinched and 
drawn. The hair was reddish-grey, the eyes small, 
but deep-set under fine brows, and the thin-lipped 
wrinkled mouth and long chin produced an effect of 
hard sarcastic strength. 

Generally the countenance was that of an old man, 
the furrows were deep, the skin brown and shrivelled. 
But the alertness and force of the man's whole ex- 
pression showed that, if the body was beginning to 
fail, the mind was as fresh and masterful as ever. His 
hair, worn rather longer than usual, his loosely-fitting 
dress and slouching carriage gave him an un-English 
look. In general he impressed Robert as a sort of 
[ 412 ] 


curious combination of the foreign savant with the 
English grandee, for while his manner showed a con- 
siderable consciousness of birth and social importance, 
the gulf between him and the ordinary English coun- 
try gentleman could hardly have been greater, whether 
in points of appearance or, as Robert very well knew, 
in points of social conduct. And as Robert watched 
him, his thoughts flew back again to the library, to 
this man's past, to all that those eyes had seen and 
those hands had touched. He felt already a mysteri- 
ous, almost a yearning, sense of acquaintance with the 
being who had just received him with such chilling, 
such unexpected, indifference. 

The squire's manners, no doubt, were notorious, 
but even so, his reception of the new rector of the 
parish, the son of a man intimately connected for 
years with the place, and with his father, and to whom 
he had himself shown what was for him considerable 
civility by letter and message, was sufficiently start- 

Robert, however, had no time to speculate on the 
causes of it,, for Mrs. Darcy, released from Mr. Wynn- 
stay, threw herself with glee on to her longed-for prey, 
the young and interesting-looking rector. First of all 
she cross-examined him as to his literary employments, 
and when by dint of much questioning she had forced 
particulars from him, Robert's mouth twitched as he 
watched her scuttling away from the subject, seized 
evidently with internal terrors lest she should have 
precipitated herself beyond hope of rescue into the 
jaws of the sixth century. Then with a view to re- 
gaining the lead and opening another and more pro- 
[ 413 ] 


mising vein, she asked him his opinion of Lady Sel- 
den's last novel, 'Love in a Marsh' ; and when he con- 
fessed ignorance she paused a moment, fork in hand, 
her small wrinkled face looking almost as bewildered 
as when, three minutes before, her rashness had well- 
nigh brought her face to face with Gregory of Tours 
as a topic of conversation. 

But she was not daunted long. With little airs and 
bridlings infinitely diverting, she exchanged inquiry 
for the most beguiling confidence. She could appre- 
ciate 'clever men/ she said, for she she too was 
literary. Did Mr. Elsmere know this in a hurried 
whisper, with sidelong glances to see that Mr. Wynn- 
stay was safely occupied with Rose, and the squire with 
Lady Charlotte that she had" once written a novel ? 

Robert, who had been posted up in many things 
concerning the neighbourhood by Lady Helen Varley, 
could answer most truly that he did. Whereupon 
Mrs. Darcy beamed all over. 

'Ah! but you have n't read it,' she said regretfully. 
'It was when I was Maid of Honour, you know. No 
Maid of Honour had ever written a novel before. It 
was quite an event. Dear Prince Albert borrowed a 
copy of me one night to read in bed I have it still, 
with the page turned down where he left off/ She hesi- 
tated. 'It was only in the second chapter/ she said 
at last with a fine truthfulness, 'but you know he was 
so busy, all the Queen's work to do, of course, besides 
his own poor man ! ' 

Robert implored her to lend him the work, and Mrs. 
Darcy, with blushes which made her more weird than 
ever, consented. 

[ 414 ] 


Then there was a pause, filled by an acid altercation 
between Lady Charlotte and her husband, who had 
not found Rose as grateful for his attentions as, in his 
opinion, a pink-and-white nobody at a country dinner- 
party ought to be, and was glad of the diversion 
afforded him by some aggressive remark of his wife. 
He and she differed on three main points politics ; 
the decoration of their London house, Mr. Wynnstay 
being a lover of Louis Quinze, and Lady Charlotte 
a preacher of Morris; and the composition of their 
dinner-parties. Lady Charlotte, in the pursuit of 
amusement and notoriety, was fond of flooding the 
domestic hearth with all the people possessed of any 
sort of a name for any sort of a reason in London. 
Mr. Wynnstay loathed such promiscuity; and the 
company in which his wife compelled him to drink his 
wine had seriously soured a small irritable Conserva- 
tive with more family pride than either nerves or 

During the whole passage of arms, Mrs. Darcy 
watched Elsmere, cat-and-mouse fashion, with a fur- 
ther confidence burning within her, and as soon as 
there was once more a general burst of talk, she 
pounced upon him afresh. Would he like to know that 
after thirty years she had just finished her second 
novel, unbeknown to her brother as she mentioned 
him the little face darkened, took a strange bitter- 
ness and it was just about to be entrusted to the 
post and a publisher? 

Robert was all interest, of course, and inquired the 
subject. Mrs. Darcy expanded still more could, in 
fact, have hugged him. But, just as she was launch- 
[ 415 ] 


ing into the plot a thought, apparently a scruple of 
conscience, struck her. 

'Do you remember/ she began, looking at him a 
little darkly, askance, 'what I said about my hobbies 
the other day? Now, Mr. Elsmere, will you tell me 
- don't mind me don't 'be polite have you ever 
heard people tell stories of me? Have you ever, for 
instance, heard them call me a a tuft-hunter?' 

' Never ! ' said Robert heartily. 

' They might/ she said, sighing. ' I am a tuft-hunter. 
I can't help it. And yet we are a good family, you 
know. I suppose it was that year at Court, and that 
horrid Warham afterwards. Twenty years in a cathe- 
dral town and a very little cathedral town, after 
Windsor, and Buckingham Palace, and dear Lord 
Melbourne! Every year I came up to town to stay 
with my father for a month in the season, and if it 
had n't been for that I should have died my hus- 
band knew I should. It was the world, the flesh, and 
the devil, of course, but it could n't be helped. But 
now/ and she looked plaintively at her companion, 
as though challenging him to a candid reply: 'You 
would be more interesting, would n't you, to tell the 
truth, if you had a handle to your name?' 

'Immeasurably/ cried Robert, stifling his laughter 
with immense difficulty, as he saw she had no inclina- 
tion to laugh. 

'Well, yes, you know. But it isn't right'; and 
again she sighed. 'And so I have been writing this 
novel just for that. It is called what do you 
think? "Mr. Jones." Mr. Jones is my hero it's 
so good for me, you know, to think about a Mr. Jones/ 
[ 416 3 


She looked beamingly at him. ' It must be indeed ! 
Have you endowed him with every virtue?' 

' Oh yes, and in the end, you know ' - and she bent 
forward eagerly 'it all comes right. His father 
did n't die in Brazil without children after all, and 
the title ' 

'What!' cried Robert, 'so he was n't Mr. Jones?' 

Mrs. Darcy looked a little conscious. 

'Well, no,' she said guiltily, 'not just at the end. 
But it really does n't matter not to the story.' 

Robert shook his head, with a look of protest as 
admonitory as he could make it, which evoked in her 
an answering expression of anxiety. But just at that 
moment a loud wave of conversation and of laughter 
seemed to sweep down upon them from the other end 
of the table, and their little private eddy was effaced. 
The squire had been telling an anecdote, and his cler- 
ical neighbours had been laughing at it. 

'Ah!' cried Mr. Longstaffe, throwing himself back 
in his chair with a chuckle, ' that was an Archbishop 
worth having ! ' 

'A curious story/ said Mr. Bickerton, benevolently, 
the point of it, however, to tell the truth, not being 
altogether clear to him. It seemed to Robert that 
the squire's keen eye, as he sat looking down the table, 
with his large nervous hands clasped before him, was 
specially fixed upon himself. 

'May we hear the story?' he said, bending forward. 
Catherine, faintly smiling in her corner beside the host, 
was looking a little flushed and moved out of her 
ordinary quiet. 

'It is a story of Archbishop Manners Sutton/ said 
[ 417 ] 


Mr. Wendover, in his dry nasal voice. ' You probably 
know it, Mr. Elsmere. After Bishop Heber's conse- 
cration to the See of Calcutta, it fell to the Archbishop 
to make a valedictory speech, in the course of the 
luncheon at Lambeth which followed the ceremony. 
" I have very little advice to' give you as to your future 
career/' he said to the young bishop, "but all that ex- 
perience has given me I hand on to you. Place before 
your eyes two precepts, and two only. One is, Preach 
the Gospel ; and the other is Put down enthusiasm ! ' ' 

There was a sudden gleam of steely animation in 
the squire's look as he told his story, his eye all the 
while fixed on Robert. Robert divined in a moment 
that the story had been re-told for his special benefit, 
and that in some unexplained way the relations be- 
tween him and the squire were already biassed. He 
smiled a little with faint politeness, and falling back 
into his place made no comment on the squire's an- 
ecdote. Lady Charlotte's eye-glass, having adjusted 
itself for a moment to the distant figure of the rector, 
with regard to whom she had been asking Dr. Meyrick 
for particulars, quite unmindful of Catherine's neigh- 
bourhood, turned back again towards the squire. 

'An unblushing old worldling, I should call your 
Archbishop,' she said briskly. 'And a very good thing 
for him that he lived when he did. Our modern good 
people would have dusted his apron for him.' 

Lady Charlotte prided herself on these vigorous 
forms of speech, and the squire's neighbourhood gen- 
erally called out an unusual crop of them. The squire 
was still sitting with his hands on the table, his great 
brows bent, surveying his guests. 
[ 418 ] 


'Oh, of course all the sensible men are dead!' he 
said indifferently. ' But that is a pet saying of mine 
- the Church of England in a nutshell/ 

Robert flushed, and after a moment's hesitation bent 

'What do you suppose/ he asked quietly, 'your 
Archbishop meant, Mr. Wendover, by enthusiasm? 
Nonconformity, I imagine/ 

'Oh, very possibly!' and again Robert found the 
hawk-like glance concentrated on himself. ' But I like 
to give his remark a much wider extension. One may 
make it a maxim of general experience, and take it as 
fitting all the fools with a mission who have teased 
our generation all your Kingsleys, and Maurices, 
and Ruskins every one bent upon making any sort 
of aimless commotion, which may serve him both as 
an investment for the next world, and an advertise- 
ment for this/ 

'Upon my word, Squire/ said Lady Charlotte, 'I 
hope you don't expect Mr. Elsmereto agree with you?' 

Mr. Wendover made her a little bow. 

' I have very little sanguineness of any sort in my 
composition/ he said drily. 

'I should like to know/ said Robert, taking no 
notice of this by-play ; ' I should like to know, Mr. 
Wendover, leaving the Archbishop out of count, 
what you understand by this word enthusiasm in this 
maxim of yours?' 

'An excellent manner/ thought Lady Charlotte, 
who, for all her noisiness, was an extremely shrewd 
woman, 'an excellent manner and an unprovoked 

[ 419 ] 


Catherine's trained eye, however, had detected signs 
in Robert's look and bearing which were lost on Lady 
Charlotte, and which made her look nervously on. 
As to the rest of the table, they had all fallen to watch- 
ing the 'break' between the new rector and their host 
with a good deal of curiosity. 

The squire paused a moment before replying, - 

' It is not easy to put it tersely/ he said at last ; ' but 
I may define it, perhaps, as the mania for mending the 
roof of your right-hand neighbour with straw torn off 
the roof of your left-hand neighbour; the custom, in 
short, of robbing Peter to propitiate Paul/ 

'Precisely/ said Mr. Wynnstay, warmly; 'all the 
ridiculous Radical nostrums of the last fifty years 
you have hit them off exactly. Sometimes you rob 
more and propitiate less ; sometimes you rob less and 
propitiate more. But the principle is always the same/ 
And mindful of all those intolerable evenings, when 
these same Radical nostrums had been forced down 
his throat at his own table, he threw a pugnacious look 
at his wife, who smiled back serenely in reply. There 
is small redress indeed for these things, when out of 
the common household stock the wife possesses most 
of the money, and a vast proportion of the brains. 

'And the cynic takes pleasure in observing/ inter- 
rupted the squire, 'that the man who effects the 
change of balance does it in the loftiest manner, and 
profits in the vulgarest way. Other trades may fail. 
The agitator is always sure of his market/ 

He spoke with a harsh contemptuous insistence 
which was gradually setting every nerve in Robert's 
body tingling. He bent forward again, his long thin 
[ 420 ] 


frame and boyish bright-complexioned face making 
an effective contrast to the squire's bronzed and 
wrinkled squareness. 

' Oh, if you and Mr. Wynnstay are prepared to draw 
an indictment against your generation and all its 
works, I have no more to say/ he said, smiling still, 
though his -voice had risen a little in spite of himself. 
' I should be content to withdraw with my Burke into 
the majority. I imagined your attack on enthusiasm 
had a narrower scope, but if it is to be made syn- 
onymous with social progress, I give up. The subject 
is too big. Only ' 

He hesitated. Mr. Wynnstay was studying him 
with somewhat insolent coolness; Lady Charlotte's 
eye-glass never wavered from his face, and he felt 
through every fibre the tender timid admonitions of 
his wife's eyes. 

'However/ he went on after an instant, 'I imagine 
that we should find it difficult anyhow to discover 
common ground. I regard your Archbishop's maxim, 
Mr. Wendover/ and his tone quickened and grew 
louder, 'as first of all a contradiction in terms; and in 
the next place, to me, almost all enthusiasms are 
respectable ! ' 

'You are one of those people, I see/ returned Mr. 
Wendover, after a pause, with the same nasal emphasis 
and the same hauteur, 'who imagine we owe civilisa- 
tion to the heart ; that mankind has felt its way 
literally. The school of the majority, of course I 
admit it amply. I, on the other hand, am with the 
benighted minority who believe that the world, so far 
as it has lived to any purpose, has lived by the head, 9 
( 421 ] 


and he flung the noun at Robert scornfully. 'But I 
am quite aware that in a world of claptrap the philo- 
sopher gets all the kicks, and the philanthropists, to 
give them their own label, all the halfpence/ 

The impassive tone had gradually warmed to a heat 
which was unmistakeable/ Lady Charlotte looked on 
with increasing relish. To her all society was a comedy 
played for her entertainment, and she detected some- 
thing more dramatic than usual in the juxtaposition 
of these two men. That young rector might be worth 
looking after. The dinners in Martin Street were 
alarmingly in want of fresh blood. As for poor Mr. 
Bickerton, he had begun to talk hastily to Cath- 
erine, with a sense of something tumbling about his 
ears ; while Mr. Longstaffe, eye-glass in hand, surveyed 
the table with a distinct sense of pleasurable enter- 
tainment. He had not seen much of Elsmere yet, but 
it was as clear as daylight that the man was a fire- 
brand, and should be kept in order. 

Meanwhile there was a pause between the two main 
disputants ; the storm-clouds were deepening outside, 
and rain had begun to patter on the windows. Mrs. 
Darcy was just calling attention to the weather when 
the squire unexpectedly returned to the charge. 

'The one necessary thing in life/ he said, turning 
to Lady Charlotte, a slight irritating smile playing 
round his strong mouth, 'is not to be duped. Put 
too much faith in these fine things the altruists talk 
of, and you arrive one day at the condition of Louis 
XIV after the battle of Ramillies : " Dieu a done oublie 
tout ce que j'ai fait pour lui?" Read your Renan; 
remind yourself at every turn that it is quite possible 
[ 422 ] 


after all the egotist may turn out to be in the right of 
it, and you will find at any rate that the world gets on 
excellently well without your blundering efforts to set 
it straight. And so we get back to the Archbishop's 
maxim adapted, no doubt, to English require- 
ments/ and he shrugged his great shoulders express- 
ively: 'Pace Mr. Elsmere, of course, and the rest of 
our clerical friends ! ' 

Again he looked down the table, and the strident 
voice sounded harsher than ever as it rose above the 
sudden noise of the storm outside. Robert's bright 
eyes were fixed on the squire, and before Mr. Wend- 
over stopped, Catherine could see the words of reply 
trembling on his lips. 

'I am well content/ he said, with a curious dry in- 
tensity of tone. ' I give you your Renan. Only leave 
us poor dupes our illusions. We will not quarrel with 
the division. With you all the cynics of history ; with 
us all the "scorners of the ground" from the world's 
beginning until now!' 

The squire made a quick impatient movement. Mr. 
Wynnstay looked significantly at his wife, who dropped 
her eye-glass with a little irrepressible smile. 

As for Robert, leaning forward with hastened breath, 
it seemed to him that his eyes and the squire's crossed 
like swords. In Robert's mind there had arisen a sud- 
den passion of antagonism. Before his eyes there was a 
vision of a child in a stifling room, struggling with mor- 
tal disease, imposed upon her, as he hotly reminded 
himself, by this man's culpable neglect. The dinner- 
party, the splendour of the room, the conversation, 
excited a kind of disgust in him. If it were not for 
[ 423 ] 


Catherine's pale face opposite, he could hardly have 
maintained his self-control. 

Mrs. Darcy, a little bewildered, and feeling that 
things were not going particularly well, thought it 
best to interfere. 

'Roger/ she said plaintively, 'you must not be so 
philosophical. It 's too hot ! He used to talk like that, ' 
she went on, bending over to Mr. Wynnstay, 'to the 
French priests who came to see us last winter in Paris. 
They never minded a bit they used to laugh. "Mon- 
sieur votre frere, madame, c'est un homme qui a trop 
lu," they would say to me when I gave them their 
coffee. Oh, they were such dears, those old priests! 
Roger said they had great hopes of me/ 

The chatter was welcome, the conversation broke 
up. The squire turned to Lady Charlotte, and Rose 
to Langham. 

'Why did n't you support Robert?' she said to him, 
impulsively, with a dissatisfied face. 'He was alone, 
against the table ! ' 

'What good should I have done him?' he asked, 
with a shrug. 'And pray, my lady confessor, what 
enthusiasms do you suspect me of?' 

He looked at her intently. It seemed to her they 
were by the gate again the touch of his lips on her 
hand. She turned from him hastily to stoop for her 
fan which had slipped away. It was only Catherine 
who, for her annoyance, saw the scarlet flush leap into 
the fair face. An instant later Mrs. Darcy had given 
the signal. 


AFTER dinner Lady Charlotte fixed herself at first on 
Catherine, whose quiet dignity during the somewhat 
trying ordeal of the dinner had impressed her, but a 
few minutes' talk produced in her the conviction that 
without a good deal of pains and why should a 
Londoner, accustomed to the cream of things, take 
pains with a country clergyman's wife? she was not 
likely to get much out of her. Her appearance prom- 
ised more, Lady Charlotte thought, than her conversa- 
tion justified, and she looked about for easier game. 

'Are you Mr. Elsmere's sister?' said a loud voice 
over Rose's head; and Rose, who had been turning 
over an illustrated book, with a mind wholly detached 
from it, looked up to see Lady Charlotte's massive 
form standing over her. 

'No, his sister-in-law/ said Rose, flushing in spite 
of herself, for Lady Charlotte was distinctly formid- 

' Hum,' said her questioner, depositing herself beside 
her. ' I never saw two sisters more unlike. You have 
got a very argumentative brother-in-law.' 

Rose said nothing, partly from awkwardness, partly 
from rising antagonism. 

'Did you agree with him?' asked Lady Charlotte, 
putting up her glass and remorselessly studying every 
detail of the pink dress, its ornaments, and the slip- 
pered feet peeping out beneath it. 
[ 425 ] 


'Entirely/ said Rose fearlessly, looking her full in 
the face. 

'And what can you know about it, I wonder? How- 
ever, you are on the right side. It is the fashion now- 
adays to have enthusiasms. I suppose you muddle 
about among the poor like other people?' 

'I know nothing about the poor/ said Rose. 

'Oh, then, I suppose you feel yourself effective 
enough in some other line?' said the other coolly. 
'What is it lawn tennis, or private theatricals, 
or hem prettiness ? ' And again the eye-glass went 

'Whichever you like/ said Rose calmly, the scarlet 
on her cheek deepening, while she resolutely reopened 
her book. The manner of the other had quite effaced 
in her all that sense of obligation, as from the young 
to the old, which she had been very carefully brought 
up in. Never had she beheld such an extraordinary 

'Don't read/ said Lady Charlotte complacently. 
' Look at me. It's your duty to talk to me, you know ; 
and I won't make myself any more disagreeable than 
I can help. I generally make myself disagreeable, and 
yet, after all, there are a great many people who like 

Rose turned a countenance rippling with suppressed 
laughter on her companion. Lady Charlotte had a 
large fair face, with a great deal of nose and chin, and 
an erection of lace and feathers on her head that 
seemed in excellent keeping with the masterful em- 
phasis of those features. Her eyes stared frankly and 
unblushingly at the world, only softened at intervals 
[ 426 ] 


by the glasses which were so used as to make them a 
most effective adjunct of her conversation. Socially, 
she was absolutely devoid of weakness or of shame. 
She found society extremely interesting, and she 
always struck straight for the desirable things in it, 
making short work of all those delicate tentative pro- 
cesses of acquaintanceship by which men and women 
ordinarily sort themselves. Rose's brilliant vivacious 
beauty had caught her eye at dinner; she adored 
beauty as she adored anything effective, and she 
always took a queer pleasure in bullying her way into 
a girl's liking. It is a great thing to be persuaded 
that at bottom you have a good heart. Lady Charlotte 
was so persuaded, and allowed herself many things in 

'What shall we talk about?' said Rose demurely. 
'What a magnificent old house this is!' 

' Stuff and nonsense ! I don't want to talk about the 
house. I am sick to death of it. And if your people 
live in the parish, you are too. I return to my question. 
Come, tell me, what is your particular line in life? I 
am sure you have one, by your face. You had better 
tell me; it will do you no harm.' 

Lady Charlotte settled herself comfortably on the 
sofa, and Rose, seeing that there was no chance of 
escaping her tormentor, felt her spirits rise to an 

' Really Lady Charlotte' and she looked down, 
and then up, with a feigned bashfulness 'I I 
play a little.' 

' Humph ! ' said her questioner again, rather discon- 
certed by the obvious missishness of the answer. ' You 
[ 427 ] 


do, do you? More's the pity. No woman who respects 
herself ought to play the piano nowadays. A profes- 
sional told me the other day that until nineteen 
twentieths of the profession were strung up, there 
would be no chance for the rest ; and as for amateurs, 
there is simply no room for them whatever. I can't 
conceive anything more passe than amateur piano- 
forte playing!' 

'I don't play the piano,' said Rose meekly. 

'What the fashionable instrument, the banjo?' 
laughed Lady Charlotte. 'That would be really strik- 

Rose was silent again, the corners of her mouth 

'Mrs. Darcy,' said her neighbour, raising her voice, 
'this young lady tells me she plays something; what 
is it?' 

Mrs. Darcy looked in a rather helpless way at Cath- 
erine. She was dreadfully afraid of Lady Charlotte. 

Catherine, with a curious reluctance, gave the re- 
quired information ; and then Lady Charlotte insisted 
that the violin should be sent for, as it had not been 

'Who accompanies you?' she inquired of Rose. 

'Mr. Langham plays very well,' said Rose indiffer- 

Lady Charlotte raised her eyebrows. 'That dark, 
Byronic-looking creature who came with .you? I 
should not have imagined him capable of anything 
sociable. Letitia, shall I send my maid to the rectory, 
or can you spare a man?' 

Mrs. Darcy hurriedly gave orders, and Rose, in- 
[ 428 ] 


wardly furious, was obliged to submit. Then Lady 
Charlotte, having gained her point, and secured a 
certain amount of diversion for the evening, lay back 
on the sofa, used her fan, and yawned till the gentle- 
men appeared. 

When they came in, the precious violin which Rose 
never trusted to any other hands but her own without 
trepidation had just arrived, and its owner, more erect 
than usual, because more nervous, was trying to prop 
up a dilapidated music-stand which Mrs. Darcy had 
unearthed for her. As Langham came in, she looked 
up and beckoned to him. 

'Do you see?' she said to him impatiently, 'they 
have made me play. Will you accompany me? I am 
very sorry, but there is no one else/ 

If there was one thing Langham loathed on his own 
account, it was any sort of performance in public. But 
the half-plaintive look which accompanied her last 
words showed that she knew it, and he did his best to 
be amiable. 

'I am altogether at your service/ he said, sitting 
down with resignation. 

'It is all that tiresome woman, Lady Charlotte 
Wynnstay/ she whispered to him behind the music- 
stand. 'I never saw such a person in my life/ 

'Macaulay's Lady Holland without the brains/ 
suggested Langham with languid vindictiveness as he 
gave her the note. 

Meanwhile Mr. Wynnstay and the squire sauntered 
in together. 

'A village Norman-Neruda?' whispered the guest to 
the host. The squire shrugged his shoulders. 
[ 429 ] 


'Hush!' said Lady Charlotte, looking severely at 
her husband. Mr. Wynnstay's smile instantly disap- 
peared; he leant against the doorway and stared 
sulkily at the ceiling. 

Then the musicians began, on some Hungarian 
melodies put together by a younger rival of Brahms. 
They had not played twenty bars before the atten- 
tion of every one in the room was more or less seized 
-unless we except Mr. Bickerton, whose children, 
good soul, were all down with some infantile ailment 
or other, and who was employed in furtively watching 
the clock all the time to see when it would be decent 
to order round the pony-carriage which would take 
him back to his pale overweighted spouse. 

First came wild snatches of march music, primitive, 
savage, non-European; then a waltz of the lightest, 
maddest rhythm, broken here and there by strange 
barbaric clashes ; then a song, plaintive and clinging, 
rich in the subtlest shades and melancholies of modern 

'Ah, but excellent!' said Lady Charlotte once, under 
her breath, at a pause; 'and what entrain what 
beauty ! ' 

For Rose's figure was standing thrown out against 
the dusky blue of the tapestried walls, and from that 
delicate relief every curve, every grace, each tint - 
hair and cheek and gleaming arm gained an enchanting 
picture-like distinctness. There was jessamine at her 
waist and among the gold of her hair ; the crystals on 
her neck, and on the little shoe thrown forward beyond 
her dress, caught the lamplight. 

'How can that man play with her and not fall in 
[ 430 ] 


love with her?' thought Lady Charlotte to herself, 
with a sigh, perhaps, for her own youth. 'He looks 
cool enough, however; the typical don with his nose 
in the air ! ' 

Then the slow passionate sweetness of the music 
swept her away with it, she being in her way a con- 
noisseur, and she ceased to speculate. When the 
sounds ceased there was silence for a moment. Mrs. 
Darcy, who had a piano in her sitting-room whereon 
she strummed every morning with her tiny rheumatic 
fingers, and who had, as we know, strange little veins 
of sentiment running all about her, stared at Rose with 
open mouth. So did Catherine. Perhaps it was then 
for the first time that, touched by this publicity, this 
contagion of other people's feeling, Catherine realised 
fully against what a depth of stream she had been 
building her useless barriers. 

'More! more!' cried Lady Charlotte. 

The whole room seconded the demand save the 
squire and Mr. Bickerton. They withdrew together 
into a distant oriel. Robert, who was delighted with 
his little sister-in-law's success, went smiling to talk 
of it to Mrs. Darcy, while Catherine with a gentle cold- 
ness answered Mr. Longstaffe's questions on the same 

'Shall we?' said Rose, panting a little, but radiant, 
looking down on her companion. 

'Command me!' he said, his grave lips slightly 
smiling, his eyes taking in the same vision that had 
charmed Lady Charlotte's. What a 'child of grace 
and genius'! 

'But do you like it?' she persisted. 
[ 431 ] 


'Like it like accompanying your playing?' 

' Oh no ! ' impatiently ; ' showing off, I mean. I am 
quite ready to stop/ 

' Go on ; go on ! ' he said, laying his finger on the A. 
' You have driven all my mauvaise honte away. I have 
not heard you play so splendidly yet/ 

She flushed all over. 'Then we will go on/ she said 

So they plunged again into an Andante and Scherzo 
of Beethoven. How the girl threw herself into it, 
bringing out the wailing love-song of the Andante, 
the dainty tripping mirth of the Scherzo, in a way 
which set every nerve in Langham vibrating ! Yet the 
art of it was wholly unconscious. The music was the 
mere natural voice of her inmost self. A comparison 
full of excitement was going on in that self between 
her first impressions of the man beside her, and her 
consciousness of him, as he seemed to-night, human, 
sympathetic, kind. A blissful sense of a mission filled 
the young silly soul. Like David, she was pitting her- 
self and her gift against those dark powers which may 
invade and paralyse a life. 

After the shouts of applause at the end had yielded 
to a burst of talk, in the midst of which Lady Char- 
lotte, with exquisite infelicity, might have been heard 
laying down the law to Catherine as to how her sister's 
remarkable musical powers might be best perfected, 
Langham turned to his companion, - 

' Do you know that for years I have enjoyed nothing 
so much as the music of the last two days?' 

His black eyes shone upon her, transfused with 
something infinitely soft and friendly. She smiled. 
[ 432 ] 


'How little I imagined that first evening that you 
cared for music ! ' 

' Or about anything else worth caring for?' he asked 
her, laughing, but with always that little melancholy 
note in the laugh. 

'Oh, if you like/ she said, with a shrug of her white 
shoulders. ' I believe you talked to Catherine the whole 
of the first evening, when you were n't reading " Ham- 
let ' ' in the corner, about the arrangements for women's 
education at Oxford.' 

'Could I have found a more respectable subject?' 
he inquired of her. 

'The adjective is excellent,' she said with a little 
face, as she put her violin into its case. ' If I remem- 
ber right, Catherine and I felt it personal. None of us 
were ever educated, except in arithmetic, sewing, Eng- 
lish history, the Catechism, and "Paradise Lost." I 
taught myself French at seventeen, because one Mo- 
liere wrote plays in it, and German because of Wagner. 
But they are my French and my German. I would n't 
advise anybody else to steal them ! ' 

Langham was silent, watching the movements of the 
girl's agile fingers. 

' I wonder,' he said at last, slowly, 'when I shall play 
that Beethoven again?' 

'To-morrow morning if you have a conscience/ she 
said drily; 'we murdered one or two passages in fine 

He looked at her, startled. 'But I go by the morn- 
ing train'!' There was an instant's silence. Then the 
violin-case shut with a snap. 

' I thought it was to be Saturday/ she said abruptly. 
[ 433 ] 


'No/ he answered with a sigh, 'it was always Fri- 
day. There is a meeting in London I must get to to- 
morrow afternoon/ 

'Then we shan't finish these Hungarian duets/ she 
said slowly, turning away from him to collect some 
music on the piano. 

Suddenly a sense of the difference between the week 
behind him, with all its ups and downs, its quarrels, 
its ennuis, its moments of delightful intimity, of ar- 
tistic freedom and pleasure, and those threadbare 
monotonous weeks into which he was to slip back on 
the morrow, awoke in him a mad inconsequent sting 
of disgust, of self-pity. 

'No, we shall finish nothing/ he said in a voice 
which only she could hear, his hands lying on the keys ; 
'there are some whose destiny it is never to finish 
never to have enough to leave the feast on the 
table, and all the edges of life ragged ! ' 

Her lips trembled. They were far away, in the vast 
room, from the group Lady Charlotte was lecturing. 
Her nerves were all unsteady with music and feeling, 
and the face looking down on him had grown pale. 

'We make our own destiny/ she said impatiently. 
' We choose. It is all our own doing. Perhaps destiny 
begins things friendship, for instance ; but after- 
wards it is absurd to talk of anything but ourselves. 
We keep our friends, our chances, our our joys/ 
she went on hurriedly, trying desperately to general- 
ise, 'or we throw them away wilfully, because we 

Their eyes were riveted on each other. 

'Not wilfully/ he said under his breath. 'But- 
[ 434 ] 


no matter. May I take you at your word, Miss Ley- 
burn? Wretched shirker that I am, whom even Rob- 
ert's charity despairs of: have I made a friend? Can 
I keep her?' 

Extraordinary spell of the dark effeminate face of 
its rare smile ! The girl forgot all pride, all discre- 
tion. ' Try/ she whispered, and as his hand, stretching 
along the keyboard, instinctively felt for hers, for one 
instant and another, and another she gave it to 

'Albert, come here!' exclaimed Lady Charlotte, 
beckoning to her husband ; and Albert, though with 
a bad grace, obeyed. 'Just go and ask that girl to 
come and talk to me, will you? Why on earth did n't 
you make friends with her at dinner?' 

The husband made some irritable answer, and the 
wife laughed. 

'Just like you !' she said, with a good humour which 
seemed to him solely caused by the fact of his non- 
success with the beauty at table. 'You always expect 
to kill at the first stroke. I mean to take her in tow. 
Go and bring her here.' 

Mr. Wynnstay sauntered off with as much dignity 
as his stature was capable of. He found Rose tieing 
up her music at one end of the piano, while Langham 
was preparing to shut up the keyboard. 

There was something appeasing in the girl's hand- 
someness. Mr. Wynnstay laid down his airs, paid her 
various compliments, and led her off to Lady Charlotte. 

Langham stood by the piano, lost in a kind of mis- 
erable dream. Mrs. Darcy fluttered up to him. 
[ 435 ] 


' Oh, Mr. Langham, you play so beautifully ! Do play 
a solo ! ' 

He subsided on to the music-bench obediently. On 
any ordinary occasion tortures could not have induced 
him to perform in a room full of strangers. He had 
far too lively and fastidious a sense of the futility of 
the amateur. 

But he played what, he knew not. Nobody list- 
ened but Mrs. Darcy, who sat lost in an armchair a 
little way off, her tiny foot beating time. Rose stopped 
talking, started, tried to listen. But Lady Charlotte 
had had enough music, and so had Mr. Longstaffe, 
who was endeavouring to joke himself into the good 
graces of the Duke of Sedbergh's sister. The din of 
conversation rose at the challenge of the piano, and 
Langham was soon overcrowded. 

Musically, it was perhaps as well, for the player's 
inward tumult was so great that what his hands did 
he hardly knew or cared. He felt himself the greatest 
criminal unhung. Suddenly, through all that wilful 
mist of epicurean feeling which had been enwrapping 
him, there had pierced a sharp illumining beam from 
a girl's eyes aglow with joy, with hope, with tender- 
ness. In the name of Heaven, what had this growing 
degeneracy of every moral muscle led him to now? 
What ! smile and talk, and smile and be a villain 
all the time? What! encroach on a young life, like 
some creeping parasitic growth, taking all, able to give 
nothing in return not even one genuine spark of 
genuine passion? Go philandering on till a child of 
nineteen shows you her warm impulsive heart, play 
on her imagination, on her pity, safe all the while in 
[ 436 ] 


the reflexion that by the next day you will be far 
away, and her task and yours will be alike to forget! 
He shrinks from himself as one shrinks from a man 
capable of injuring anything weak and helpless. To 
despise the world's social code, and then to fall con- 
spicuously below its simplest articles ; to aim at being 
pure intelligence, pure open-eyed rationality, and not 
even to succeed in being a gentleman, as the poor 
commonplace world understands it! Oh, to fall at 
her feet, and ask her pardon before parting for ever ! 
But no no more posing ; no more dramatising. How 
can he get away most quietly make least sign? The 
thought of that walk home in the darkness fills him 
with a passion of irritable impatience. 

'Look at that Romney, Mr. Elsmere; just look at 
it!' cried Dr. Meyrick excitedly; 'did you ever see 
anything finer? There was one of those London dealer 
fellows down here last summer offered the squire four 
thousand pounds down on the nail for it.' 

In this way Meyrick had been taking Robert round 
the drawing-room, doing the honours of every stick 
and stone in it, his eye-glass in his eye, his thin old 
face shining with pride over the Wendover possessions. 
And so the two gradually neared the oriel where the 
squire and Mr. Bickerton were standing. 

Robert was in twenty minds as to any further con- 
versation with the squire. After the ladies had gone, 
while every nerve in him was still tingling with anger, 
he had done his best to keep up indifferent talk on lo- 
cal matters with Mr. Bickerton. Inwardly he was ask- 
ing himself whether he should ever sit at the squire's 
[ 437 ] 


table and eat his bread again. It seemed to him that 
they had had a brush which would be difficult to for- 
get. And as he sat there before the squire's wine, hot 
with righteous heat, all his grievances against the man 
and the landlord crowded upon him. A fig for intel- 
lectual eminence if it make a man oppress his inferiors 
and bully his equals ! 

But as the minutes passed on, the rector had cooled 
down. The sweet, placable, scrupulous nature began 
to blame itself. 'What, play your cards so badly, give 
up the game so rashly, the very first round? Non- 
sense! Patience and try again. There must be some 
cause in the background. No need to be white-livered, 
but every need, in the case of such a man as the squire, 
to take no hasty needless offence/ 

So he had cooled and cooled, and now here were 
Meyrick and he close to the squire and his companion. 
The two men, as the rector approached, were discuss- 
ing some cases of common enclosure that had just 
taken place in the neighbourhood. Robert listened 
a moment, then struck in. Presently, when the chat 
dropped, he began to express to the squire his pleas- 
ure in the use of the library. His manner was excellent, 
courtesy itself, but without any trace of effusion. 

'I believe/ he said at last, smiling, 'my father used 
to be allowed the same privileges. If so, it quite 
accounts for the way in which he clung to Mure- 

'I had never the honour of Mr. Edward Elsmere's 
acquaintance/ said the squire frigidly. 'During the 
time of his occupation of the rectory I was not in Eng- 

[ 438 ] 


'I know. Do you still go much to Germany? Do 
you keep up your relations with Berlin?' 

'I have not seen Berlin for fifteen years/ said the 
squire briefly, his eyes in their wrinkled sockets fixed 
sharply on the man who ventured to question him 
about himself, uninvited. There was an awkward 
pause. Then the squire turned again to Mr. Bickerton. 

' Bickerton, have you noticed how many trees that 
storm of last February has brought down at the north- 
east corner of the park?' 

Robert was inexpressibly galled by the movement, 
by the words themselves. The squire had not yet ad- 
dressed a single remark of any kind about Murewell 
to him. There was a deliberate intention to exclude 
implied in this appeal to the man who was not the 
man of the place, on such a local point, which struck 
Robert very forcibly. 

He walked away to where his wife was sitting. 

'What time is it?' whispered Catherine, looking up 
at him. 

'Time to go/ he returned, smiling, but she caught 
the discomposure in his tone and look at once, and 
her wifely heart rose against the squire. She got up, 
drawing herself together with a gesture that became 

' Then let us go at once, ' she said. ' Where is Rose ? ' 

A minute later there was a general leave-taking. 
Oddly enough it found the squire in the midst of a 
conversation with Langham. As though to show more 
clearly that it was the rector personally who was in 
his black books, Mr. Wendover had already devoted 
some cold attention to Catherine both at and after 
[ 439 ] 


dinner, and he had no sooner routed Robert than he 
moved in his slouching way across from Mr. Bicker- 
ton to Langham. And now, another man altogether, 
he was talking and laughing describing apparently 
a reception at the French Academy the epigrams 
flying, the harsh face all lit up, the thin bony fingers 
gesticulating freely. 

The husband and wife exchanged glances as they 
stood waiting, while Lady Charlotte, in her loudest 
voice, was commanding Rose to come and see her in 
London any Thursday after the first of November. 
Robert was very sore. Catherine passionately felt it, 
and forgetting everything but him, longed to be out 
with him in the park comforting him. 

'What an absurd fuss you have been making about 
that girl/ Wynnstay exclaimed to his wife as the Els- 
mere party left the room, the squire conducting Cath- 
erine with a chill politeness. 'And now, I suppose, you 
will be having her up in town, and making some young 
fellow who ought to know better fall in love with her. 
I am told the father was a grammar-school headmas- 
ter. Why can't you leave people where they belong?' 

' I have already pointed out to you/ Lady Charlotte 
observed calmly, 'that the world has moved on since 
you were launched into it. I can't keep up class dis- 
tinctions to please you ; otherwise, no doubt, being the 
devoted wife I am, I might try. However, my dear, we 
both have our fancies. You collect Sevres china with 
or without a pedigree/ and she coughed drily; 'I col- 
lect promising young women. On the whole, I think 
my hobby is more beneficial to you than yours is profit- 
able to me.' 

[ 440 ] 


Mr. Wynnstay was furious. Only a week before he 
had been childishly, shamefully taken in by a Jew 
curiosity-dealer from Vienna, to his wife's huge amuse- 
ment. If looks could have crushed her, Lady Char- 
lotte would have been crushed. But she was far too 
substantial as she lay back in her chair, one large foot 
crossed over the other, and, as her husband very well 
knew, the better man of the two. He walked away, 
murmuring under his moustache words that would 
hardly have borne publicity, while Lady Charlotte, 
through her glasses, made a minute study of a little 
French portrait hanging some two yards from her. 

Meanwhile the Elsmere party were stepping out 
into the warm damp of the night. The storm had died 
away, but a soft Scotch mist of rain filled the air. 
Everything was dark, save for a few ghostly glimmer- 
ings through the trees of the avenue; and there was 
a strong sweet smell of wet earth and grass. Rose 
had drawn the hood of her waterproof over her head, 
and her face gleamed an indistinct whiteness from its 
shelter. Oh this leaping pulse this bright glow of 
expectation ! How had she made this stupid blunder 
about his going? Oh, it was Catherine's mistake, of 
course, at the beginning. But what matter? Here 
they were in the dark, side by side, friends now, friends 
always. Catherine should not spoil their last walk 
together. She felt a passionate trust that he would 
not allow it. 

'Wifie!' exclaimed Robert, drawing her a little 
apart, 'do you know it has just occurred to me that, 
as I was going through the park this afternoon by the 
[ 441 ] 


lower footpath, I crossed Henslowe coming away from 
the house. Of course this is what has happened ! He 
has told his story first. No doubt just before I met 
him he had been giving the squire a full and partic- 
ular account a la Henslowe of my proceedings 
since I came. Henslowe 'lays it on thick paints 
with a will. The squire receives me afterwards as the 
meddlesome pragmatical priest he understands me to 
be; puts his foot down to begin with; and hinc illse 
lacrymx. It 's as clear as daylight ! I thought that man 
had an odd twist of the lip as he passed me/ 

'Then a disagreeable evening will be the worst of 
it/ said Catherine proudly. 'I imagine, Robert, you 
can defend yourself against that bad man?' 

'He has got the start; he has no scruples; and it 
remains to be seen whether the squire has a heart to 
appeal to/ replied the young rector with sore reflect- 
iveness. 'Oh, Catherine, have you ever thought, 
wifie, what a business it will be for us if I can't make 
friends with that man? Here we are at his gates 
all our people in his power ; the comfort, at any rate, 
of our social life depending on him. And what a 
strange, unmanageable, inexplicable being ! ' 

Elsmere sighed aloud. Like all quick imaginative 
natures he was easily depressed, and the squire's 
sombre figure had for the moment darkened his whole 
horizon. Catherine laid her cheek against his arm in 
the darkness, consoling, remonstrating, every other 
thought lost in her sympathy with Robert's worries. 
Langham and Rose slipped out of her head ; Elsmere's 
step had quickened, as it always did when he was 
excited, and she kept up without thinking. 
[ 442 ] 


When Langham found the others had shot ahead 
in the darkness, and he and his neighbour were tete- 
a-tete, despair seized him. But for once he showed a 
sort of dreary presence of mind. Suddenly, while the 
girl beside him was floating in a golden dream of feel- 
ing, he plunged with a stiff deliberation born of his 
inner conflict into a discussion of the German system 
of musical training. Rose, startled, made some vague 
and flippant reply. Langham pursued the matter. 
He had some information about it, it appeared, gar- 
nered up in his mind, which might perhaps some day 
prove useful to her. A St. Anselm's undergraduate, 
one Dashwood, an old pupil of his, had been lately at 
Berlin for six months, studying at the Conservatorium. 
Not long ago, being anxious to become a schoolmaster, 
he had written to Langham for a testimonial. His 
letter had contained a full account of his musical 
life. Langham proceeded to recapitulate it. 

His careful and precise report of hours, fees, mas- 
ters, and methods lasted till they reached the park 
gate. He had the smallest .powers of social acting, 
and his role was dismally overdone. The girl beside 
him could not know that he was really defending her 
from himself. His cold altered manner merely seemed 
to her a sudden and marked withdrawal of his petition 
for her friendship. No doubt she had received that 
petition too effusively and he wished there should 
be no mistake. 

What a young smarting soul went through in that 

half-mile of listening is better guessed than analysed. 

There are certain moments of shame, which only 

women know, and which seem to sting and burn out 

[ 443 ] 


of youth all its natural sweet self-love. A woman may 
outlive them, but never forget them. If she pass 
through one at nineteen her cheek will grow hot over 
it at seventy. Her companion's measured tone, the 
flow of deliberate speech which came from him, the 
nervous aloofness of his attitude every detail in 
that walk seemed to Rose's excited sense an insult. 

As the park gate swung behind them she felt a sick 
longing for Catherine's shelter. Then all the pride in 
her rushed to the rescue and held that swooning dis- 
may at the heart of her in check. And forthwith she 
capped Langham's minute account of the scale-method 
of a famous Berlin pianist by some witty stories of 
the latest London prodigy, a child-violinist, incredibly 
gifted, dirty, and greedy, whom she had made friends 
with in town. The girl's voice rang out sharp and hard 
under the trees. Where, in fortune's name, were the 
lights of the rectory? Would this nightmare never 
come to an end? 

At the rectory gate was Catherine waiting for them, 
her whole soul one repentant alarm. 

'Mr. Langham, Robert has gone to the study; will 
you go and smoke with him?' 

'By all means. Good -night, then, Mrs. Elsmere/ 

Catherine gave him her hand. Rose was trying hard 
to fit the lock of the gate into the hasp, and had no 
hand free. Besides, he did not approach her. 

'Good-night!' she said to him over her shoulder. 

'Oh, and Mr. Langham!' Catherine called after him 
as he strode away, 'will you settle with Robert about 
the carriage?' 

He turned, made a sound of assent, and went on. 
[ 444 ] 


'When?' asked Rose lightly. 

'For the nine o'clock train/ 

' There should be a law against interfering with peo- 
ple's breakfast-hour/ said Rose; 'though, to be sure, 
a guest may as well get himself gone early and be done 
with it. How you and Robert raced, Cathie ! We did 
our best to catch you up, but the pace was too good.' 

Was there a wild taunt, a spice of malice in the 
girl's reckless voice? Catherine could not see her in 
the darkness, but the sister felt a sudden trouble in- 
vade her. 

'Rose, darling, you are not tired?' 

' Oh dear, no ! Good-night, sleep well. What a goose 
Mrs. Darcy is!' 

And, barely submitting to be kissed, Rose ran up 
the steps and upstairs. 

Langham and Robert smoked till midnight. Lang- 
ham for the first time gave Elsmere an outline of his 
plans for the future, and Robert, filled with dismay at 
this final breach with Oxford and human society, and 
the only form of practical life possible to such a man, 
threw himself into protests more and more vigorous 
and affectionate. Langham listened to them at first 
with sombre silence, then with an impatience which 
gradually reduced Robert to a sore puffing at his 
pipe. There was a long space during which they sat 
together, the ashes of the little fire Robert had made 
dropping on the hearth, and not a word on either side. 

At last Elsmere could not bear it, and when mid- 
night struck he sprang up with an impatient shake of 
his long body, and Langham took the hint, gave him 
a cold good-night, and went. 

[ 445 ] 


As the door shut upon him Robert dropped back 
into his chair, and sat on, his face in his hands, staring 
dolefully at the fire. It seemed to him the world was 
going crookedly. A day on which a man of singularly 
open and responsive temper makes a new enemy, and 
comes nearer than ever before to losing an old friend, 
shows very blackly to him in the calendar, and, by way 
of aggravation, Robert Elsmere says to himself at once 
that somehow or other there must be fault of his own 
in the matter. 

Rose! pshaw! Catherine little knows what stuff 
that cold intangible soul is made of. 

Meanwhile, Langham was standing heavily, looking 
out into the night. The different elements in the moun- 
tain of discomfort that weighed upon him were so many 
that the weary mind made no attempt to analyse them. 
He had a sense of disgrace, of having stabbed some- 
thing gentle that had leant upon him, mingled with a 
strong intermittent feeling of unutterable relief. Per- 
haps his keenest regret was that, after all, it had not 
been love! He had offered himself up to a girl's just 
contempt, but he had no recompense in the shape of a 
great addition to knowledge, to experience. Save for 
a few doubtful moments at the beginning, when he had 
all but surprised himself in something more poignant, 
what he had been conscious of had been nothing more 
than a suave and delicate charm of sentiment, a subtle 
surrender to one exquisite aesthetic impression after 
another. And these things in other relations the world 
had yielded him before. 

'Am I sane?' he muttered to himself. 'Have I ever 
been sane? Probably not. The disproportion between 
[ 446 ] 


my motives and other men's is too great to be normal. 
Well, at least I am sane enough to shut myself up. 
Long after that beautiful child has forgotten she ever 
saw me I shall still be doing penance in the desert/ 

He threw himself down beside the open window 
with a groan. An hour later he lifted a face blanched 
and lined, and stretched out his hand with avidity 
towards a book on the table. It was an obscure and 
difficult Greek text, and he spent the greater part of 
the night over it, rekindling in himself with feverish 
haste the embers of his one lasting passion. 

Meanwhile, in a room overhead, another last scene 
in this most futile of dramas was passing. Rose, when 
she came in* had locked the door, torn off her dress 
and her ornaments, and flung herself on the edge of 
the bed, her hands on her knees, her shoulders droop- 
ing, a fierce red spot on either cheek. There for an in- 
definite time she went through a torture of self-scorn. 
The incidents of the week passed before her one by 
one her sallies, her defiances, her impulsive friend- 
liness, the elan, the happiness of the last two days, the 
self-abandonment of this evening. Oh, intolerable 
intolerable ! 

And all to end with the intimation that she had been 
behaving like a forward child had gone too far and 
must be admonished made to feel accordingly ! The 
poisoned arrow pierced deeper and deeper into ,the 
girl's shrinking pride. The very foundations of self- 
respect seemed overthrown. 

Suddenly her eye caught a dim and ghostly reflex- 
ion of her own figure, as she sat with locked hands on 
the edge of the bed, in a long glass near, the only one 
[ 447 ] 


of the kind which the rectory household possessed. 
Rose sprang up, snatched at the candle, which was 
flickering in the air of the open window, and stood 
erect before the glass, holding the candle above her 

What the light showed her was a slim form in a white 
dressing-gown, that fell loosely about it; a rounded 
arm upstretched; a head, still crowned with its jes- 
samine wreath, from which the bright hair fell heavily 
over shoulders and bosom ; eyes, under frowning brows, 
flashing a proud challenge at what they saw ; two lips, 
'indifferent red/ just open to let the quick breath 
come through all thrown into the wildest chiaro- 
scuro by the wavering candle-flame. 

Her challenge was answered. The fault was not 
there. Her arm dropped. She put down the light. 

' I am handsome/ she said to herself, her mouth quiv- 
ering, childishly. 'I am. I may say it to myself.' 

Then, standing by the window, she stared into the 
night. Her room, on the opposite side of the house 
from Langham's, looked over the cornfields and the 
distance. The stubbles gleamed faintly; the dark 
woods, the clouds teased by the rising wind, sent a 
moaning voice to greet her. 

' I hate him ! I hate him ! ' she cried to the darkness, 
clenching her cold little hand. 

Then presently she slipped on to her knees, and 
buried her head in the bed-clothes. She was- crying - 
angry stifled tears which had the hot impatience of 
youth in them. It all seemed to her so untoward. This 
was not the man she had dreamed of the unknown 
of her inmost heart. He had been young, ardent, im- 
[ 448 ] 


petuous like herself. Hand in hand, eye flashing into 
eye, pulse answering to pulse, they would have flung 
aside the veil hanging over life and plundered the 
golden mysteries behind it. 

She rebels; she tries to see the cold alien nature 
which has laid this paralysing spell upon her as it is, 
to reason herself back to peace to indifference. The 
poor child flies from her own half-understood trouble ; 
will none of it; murmurs again wildly 

'I hate him! I hate him! Cold-blooded ungrate- 
ful unkind!' 

In vain. A pair of melancholy eyes haunt, enthral her 
inmost soul. The charm of the denied, the inaccessible, 
is on her, womanlike. 

That old sense of capture, of helplessness, as of 
some lassoed struggling creature, descended upon her. 
She lay sobbing there, trying to recall what she had 
been a week before ; the whirl of her London visit, the 
ambitions with which it had filled her ; the bewildering 
many-coloured lights it had thrown upon life ; the in- 
toxicating sense of artistic power. In vain. 

1 The stream will not flow, and the hills will not rise ; 
And the colours have all passed away from her eyes.' 

She felt herself bereft, despoiled. And yet through it 
all, as she lay weeping, there came flooding a strange 
contradictory sense of growth, of enrichment. In such 
moments of pain does a woman first begin to live? 
Ah ! why should it hurt so this long-awaited birth 
of the soul? 




THE evening of the Murewell Hall dinner-party 
proved to be a date of some importance in the lives of 
two or three persons. Rose was not likely to forget it ; 
Langham carried about with him the picture of the 
great drawing-room, its stately light and shade, and 
its scattered figures, through many a dismal subse- 
quent hour ; and to Robert it was the beginning of a 
period of practical difficulties such as his fortunate 
youth had never yet encountered. 

His conjecture had hit the mark. The squire's senti- 
ments towards him, which had been on the whole 
friendly enough, with the exception of a slight nuance 
of contempt provoked in Mr. Wendover's mind by all 
forms of the clerical calling, had been completely 
transformed in the course of the afternoon before 
the dinner-party, and transformed by the report of his 
agent. Henslowe, who knew certain sides of the 
squire's character by heart, had taken Time by the 
forelock. For fourteen years before Robert entered 
the parish he had been king of it. Mr. Preston, Rob- 
ert's predecessor, had never given him a moment's 
trouble. The agent had developed a habit of drinking, 
had favoured his friends and spited his enemies, and 
had allowed certain distant portions of the estate to 
go finely to ruin, quite undisturbed by any sentimental 
meddling of the priestly sort. Then the old rector had 
been gathered to the majority, and this long-legged 
[ 453 ] 


busy-body had taken his place, a man, according to 
the agent, as full of communistical notions as an egg 
is full of meat, and always ready to poke his nose into 
other people's business. And as all men like mastery, 
but especially Scotchmen, and as during even the first 
few months of the new rector's tenure of office it 
became tolerably evident to Henslowe that young 
Elsmere would soon become the ruling force of the 
neighbourhood unless measures were taken to prevent 
it, the agent, over his nocturnal drams, had taken 
sharp and cunning counsel with himself concerning 
the young man. 

The state of Mile End had been originally the result 
of indolence and caprice on his part rather than of any 
set purpose of neglect. As soon, however, as it was 
brought to his notice by Elsmere, who did it, to be- 
gin with, in the friendliest way, it became a point of 
honour with the agent to let the place go to the devil, 
nay, to hurry it there. For some time, notwithstand- 
ing, he avoided an open breach with the rector. He 
met Elsmere 's remonstrances by a more or less civil 
show of argument, belied every now and then by the 
sarcasm of his coarse blue eye, and so far the two men 
had kept outwardly on terms. Elsmere had reason to 
know that on one or two occasions of difficulty in the 
parish Henslowe had tried to do him a mischief. The 
attempts, however, had not greatly succeeded, and 
their ill-success had probably excited in Elsmere a 
confidence of ultimate victory which had tended to 
keep him cool in the presence of Henslowe's hostility. 
But Henslowe had been all along merely waiting for 
the squire. He had served the owner of the Murewell 
[ 454 ] 


estate for fourteen years, and if he did not know that 
owner's peculiarities by this time, might he obtain 
certain warm corners in the next life to which he was 
fond of consigning other people! It was not easy to 
cheat the squire out of money, but it was quite easy 
to play upon his ignorance of the details of English 
land management ignorance guaranteed by the 
learned habits of a lifetime on his complete lack 
of popular sympathy, and on the contempt felt by 
the disciple of Bismarck and Mommsen for all forms 
of altruistic sentiment. The squire despised priests. 
He hated philanthropic cants. Above all things he 
respected his own leisure, and was abnormally, ir- 
ritably sensitive as to any possible inroads upon it. 

All these things Henslowe knew, and all these things 
he utilised. He saw the squire within forty-eight hours 
of his arrival at Murewell. His fancy picture of Robert 
and his doings was introduced with adroitness, and 
coloured with great skill, and he left the squire walk- 
ing up and down his library, chafing alternately at the 
monstrous fate which had planted this sentimental 
agitator at his gates, and at the memory of his own 
misplaced civilities towards the intruder. In the even- 
ing those civilities were abundantly avenged, as we 
have seen. 

Robert was much perplexed as to his next step. His 
heart was very sore. The condition of Mile End 
those gaunt-eyed women and wasted children, all the 
sordid details of their unjust avoidable suffering 
weighed upon his nerves perpetually. But he was con- 
scious that this state of feeling was one of tension, 
perhaps of exaggeration, and though it was impossible 
[ 455 ] 


he should let the matter alone, he was anxious to do 
nothing rashly. 

However, two days after the dinner-party he met 
Henslowe on the hill leading up to the rectory. Rob- 
ert would have passed the man with a stiffening of 
his tall' figure and the slightest possible salutation. 
But the agent, just returned from a round wherein the 
bars of various local inns had played a conspicuous 
part, was in a truculent mood and stopped to speak. 
He took up the line of insolent condolence with the 
rector on the impossibility of carrying his wishes with 
regard to Mile End into effect. They had been laid 
before the squire, of course, but the squire had his 
own ideas and was n't just easy to manage. 

'Seen him yet, sir?' Henslowe wound up jauntily, 
every line of his flushed countenance, the full lips 
under the fair beard, and the light prominent eyes, 
expressing a triumph he hardly cared to conceal. 

' I have seen him, but I have not talked to him on 
this particular matter/ said the rector quietly, though 
the red mounted in his cheek. 'You may, how- 
ever, be very sure, Mr. Henslowe, that everything I 
know about Mile End the squire shall know before 

'Oh, lor' bless me, sir!' cried Henslowe, with a guf- 
faw, 'it's all one to me. And if the squire ain't satis- 
fied with the way his work's done now, why he can 
take you on as a second string, you know. You 'd show 
us all, I'll be bound, how to make the money fly.' 

Then Robert's temper gave way, and he turned 
upon the half -drunken brute before him with a few 
home-truths delivered with a rapier-like force which 
[ 456 ] 


for the moment staggered Henslowe, who turned from 
red to purple. The rector, with some of those pitiful 
memories of the hamlet, of which we had glimpses 
in his talk with Langham, burning at his heart, felt 
the man no better than a murderer, and as good as 
told him so. Then, without giving him time to reply, 
Robert strode on, leaving Henslowe planted in the 
pathway. But he was hardly up the hill before the 
agent, having recovered himself by dint of copious 
expletives, was looking after him with a grim chuckle. 
He knew his master, and he knew himself, and he 
thought between them they would about manage to 
keep that young spark in order. 

Robert meanwhile went straight home into his 
study, and there fell upon ink and paper. What was 
the good of protracting the matter any longer? Some- 
thing must and should be done for these people, if 
not one way, then another. 

So he wrote to the squire, showing the letter to 
Catherine when it was done, lest there should be 
anything over-fierce in it. It was the simple record 
of twelve months' experience told with dignity and 
strong feeling. Henslowe was barely mentioned in it,, 
and the chief burden of the letter was to implore the 
squire to come and inspect certain portions of his 
property with his own eyes. The rector would be at 
his service any day or hour. 

Husband and wife went anxiously through the doc- 
ument, softening here, improving there, and then it 
was sent to the Hall. Robert waited nervously through 
the day for an answer. In the evening, while he and 
Catherine were in the footpath after dinner, watching 
[ 457 ] 


a chilly autumnal moonrise over the stubbles of the 
cornfield, the answer came. 

'H'm,' said Robert dubiously as he opened it, hold- 
ing it up to the moonlight ; ' can't be said to be lengthy. ' 

He and Catherine hurried into the house. Robert 
read the letter, and harided it to her without a word. 

After some curt references to one or two miscella- 
neous points raised in the latter part of the rector's 
letter, the squire wound up as follows : - 

'As for the bulk of your communication, I am at a 
loss to understand the vehemence of your remarks on 
the subject of my Mile End property. My agent in- 
formed me shortly after my return home that you had 
been concerning yourself greatly, and, as he conceived, 
unnecessarily about the matter. Allow me to assure 
you that I have full confidence in Mr. Henslowe, who 
has been in the district for as many years as you have 
spent months in it, and whose authority on points con- 
nected .with the business management of my estate 
naturally carries more weight with me, if you will 
permit me to say so, than your own. I am, sir, 
your obedient servant, 


Catherine returned the letter to her husband with 
a look of dismay. He was standing with his back to 
the chimney-piece, his hands thrust far into his 
pockets, his upper lip quivering. In his happy ex- 
pansive life this was the sharpest personal rebuff that 
had ever happened to him. He could not but smart 
under it. 

[ 458 ] 


'Not a word/ he said, tossing his hair back impetu- 
ously, as Catherine stood opposite watching him ' not 
one single word about the miserable people them- 
selves! What kind of stuff can the man be made of?' 

' Does he believe you?' asked Catherine, bewildered. 

'If not, one must try and make him/ he said en- 
ergetically, after a moment's pause. 'To-morrow, 
Catherine, I go down to the Hall and see him.' 

She quietly acquiesced, and the following afternoon, 
first thing after luncheon, she watched him go, her 
tender inspiring look dwelling with him as he crossed 
the park, which was lying delicately wrapped in one 
of the whitest of autumnal mists, the sun just playing 
through it with pale invading shafts. 

The butler looked at him with some doubtfulness. 
It was never safe to admit visitors for the squire with- 
out orders. But he and Robert had special relations. 
As the possessor of a bass voice worthy of his girth, 
Vincent, under Robert's rule, had become the pillar 
of the choir, and it was not easy for him to refuse the 

So Robert was led in, through the hall, and down 
the long passage to the curtained door, which he knew 
so well. 

'Mr. Elsmere, sir!' 

There was a sudden hasty movement. Robert 
passed a magnificent lacquered screen newly placed 
round the door, and found himself in the squire's 

The squire had half -risen from his seat in a capacious 
chair, with a litter of books round it, and confronted 
his visitor with a look of surprised annoyance. The 
[ 459 ] 


figure of the rector, tall, thin, and youthful, stood out 
against the delicate browns and whites of the book- 
lined walls. The great room, so impressively bare 
when Robert and Langham had last seen it, was now 
full of the signs of a busy man's constant habitation. 
An odour of smoke pervaded it ; the table in the win- 
dow was piled with books just unpacked, and the half- 
emptied case from which they had been taken lay on 
the ground beside the squire's chair. 

'I persuaded Vincent to admit me, Mr. Wendover/ 
said Robert, advancing hat in hand, while the squire 
hastily put down the German professor's pipe he had 
just been enjoying, and coldly accepted his proffered 
greeting. ' I should have preferred not to disturb you 
without an appointment, but after your letter it 
seemed to me some prompt personal explanation was 

The squire stiffly motioned towards a chair, which 
Robert took, and then slipped back into his own, his 
wrinkled eyes fixed on the intruder. 

Robert, conscious of almost intolerable embarrass- 
ment, but maintaining in spite of it an excellent de- 
gree of self-control, plunged at once into business. He 
took the letter he had just received from the squire as 
a text, made a good-humoured defence of his own pro- 
ceedings, described his attempt to move Henslowe, 
and the reluctance of his appeal from the man to the 
master. The few things he allowed himself to say 
about Henslowe were in perfect temper, though by no 
means without an edge. 

Then, having disposed of the more personal aspects 
of the matter, he paused, and looked hesitatingly at 
[ 460 ] 


the face opposite him, more like a bronzed mask at 
this moment than a human countenance. The squire 
however, gave him no help. He had received his re- 
marks so far in perfect silence, and seeing that there 
were more to come, he waited for them with the same 
rigidity of look and attitude. 

So, after a moment or two, Robert went on to de- 
scribe in detail some of those individual cases of hard- 
ship and disease at Mile End, during the preceding 
year, which could be most clearly laid to the sani- 
tary condition of the place. Filth, damp, leaking roofs, 
foul floors, poisoned water he traced to each some 
ghastly human ill, telling his stories with a nervous 
brevity, a suppressed fire, which would have burnt 
them into the sense of almost any other listener. Not 
one of these woes but he and Catherine had tended 
with sickening pity and labour of body and mind. 
That side of it he kept rigidly out of sight. But all 
that he could hurl against the squire's feeling, as it 
were, he gathered up, strangely conscious through 
it all of his own young persistent yearning to right 
himself with this man, whose mental history, as it 
lay chronicled in these rooms, had been to him, at 
a time of intellectual hunger, so stimulating, so en- 

But passion and reticence and hidden sympathy 
were alike lost upon the squire. Before he paused Mr. 
Wendover had already risen restlessly from his chair, 
and from the rug was glowering down on his unwel- 
come visitor. 

Good heavens ! had he come home to be lectured in 
his own library by this fanatical slip of a parson? As 
[ 461 ] 


for his stories, the squire barely took the trouble to 
listen to them. 

Every popularity-hunting fool, with a passion for 
putting his hand into other people's pockets, can 
tell pathetic stories ; but it was intolerable that his 
scholar's privacy should be at the mercy of one of the 

'Mr. Elsmere,' he broke out at last with contempt- 
uous emphasis, ' I imagine it would have been better 
infinitely better to have spared both yourself and 
me the disagreeables of this interview. However, I am 
not sorry we should understand each other. I have 
lived a life which is at least double the length of yours 
in very tolerable peace and comfort. The world has 
been good enough for me, and I for it, so far. I have 
been master in my own estate, and intend to remain 
so. As for the new-fangled ideas of a landowner's 
duty, with which your mind seems to be full ' the 
scornful irritation of the tone was unmistakeable ' I 
have never dabbled in them, nor do I intend to begin 
now. I am like the rest of my kind ; I have no money 
to chuck away in building-schemes, in order that the 
f rector of the parish may pose as the apostle of the 
agricultural labourer. That, however, is neither here 
nor there. What is to the purpose is, that my business 
affairs are in the hands of a business man, deliberately 
chosen and approved by me, and that I have nothing 
to do with them. Nothing at all ! ' he repeated with 
emphasis. ' It may seem to you very shocking. You 
may regard it as the object in life of the English land- 
owner to inspect the pig-styes and amend the habits 
of the English labourer. I don't quarrel with the con- 
[ 462 ] 


ception, I only ask you not to expect me to live up to 
it. I am a student first and foremost, and desire to be 
left to my books. Mr. Henslowe is there on purpose 
to protect my literary freedom. What he thinks de- 
sirable is good enough for me, as I have already in- 
formed you. I am sorry for it if his methods do not 
commend themselves to you. But I have yet to learn 
that the rector of the parish has an ex-officio right to 
interfere between a landlord and his tenants/ 

Robert kept his temper with some difficulty. After 
a pause he said, feeling desperately, however, that the 
suggestion was not likely to improve matters, - 

' If I were to take all the trouble and all the expense 
off your hands, Mr. Wendover, would it be impossible 
for you to authorise me to make one or two alterations 
most urgently necessary for the improvement of the 
Mile End cottages?' 

The squire burst into an angry laugh. 

*I have never yet been in the habit, Mr. Elsmere, 
of doing my repairs by public subscription. You ask a 
little too much from an old man's powers of adapta- 

Robert rose from his seat, his hand trembling as it 
rested on his walking-stick. 

'Mr. Wendover/ he said, speaking at last with a 
flash of answering scorn in his young vibrating voice, 
'what I think you cannot understand is that at any 
moment a human creature may sicken and die, pois- 
oned by the state of your property, for which you 
and nobody else are ultimately responsible/ 

The squire shrugged his shoulders. 

'So you say, Mr. Elsmere. If true, every person in 
[ 463 ] 


such a condition has a remedy in his own hands. I 
force no one to remain on my property/ 

'The people who live there/ exclaimed Robert, 
'have neither home nor subsistence if they are driven 
out. Murewell is full times bad most of the peo- 
ple old/ 

'And eviction "a sentence of death," I suppose/ 
interrupted the squire, studying him with sarcastic 
eyes. 'Well, I have no belief in a Gladstonian Ireland, 
still less in a Radical England. Supply and demand, 
cause and effect, are enough for me. The Mile End 
cottages are out of repair, Mr. Elsmere, so Mr. Hens- 
lowe tells me, because the site is unsuitable, the type 
of cottage out of date. People live in them at their 
peril ; I don't pull them down, or rather ' correcting 
himself with exasperating consistency 'Mr. Hens- 
lowe does n't pull them down, because, like other men, 
I suppose, he dislikes an outcry. But if the population 
stays, it stays at its own risk. Now have I made my- 
self plain?' 

The two men eyed one another. 

'Perfectly plain/ said Robert quietly. 'Allow me 
to remind you, Mr. Wendover, that there are other 
matters than eviction capable of provoking an outcry/ 

'As you please/ said the other indifferently. ' I have 
no doubt I shall find myself in the newspapers before 
long. If so, I dare say I shall manage to put up with 
it. Society is made up of fanatics and the creatures 
they hunt. If I am to be hunted, I shall be in good 

Robert stood hat in hand, tormented with a dozen 
cross-currents of feeling. He was forcibly struck with 
[ 464 ] 


the blind and comparatively motiveless pugnacity of 
the squire's conduct. There was an extravagance in 
it which for the first time recalled to him old Meyrick's 

'I have done no good, I see, Mr. Wendover/ he said 
at last, slowly. ' I wish I could have induced you to do 
an act of justice and mercy. I wish I could have made 
you think more kindly of myself. I have failed in both. 
It is useless to keep you any longer. Good-morning/ 

He bowed. The squire also bent forward. At that 
moment Robert caught sight beside his shoulder of 
an antique, standing on the mantelpiece, which was a 
new addition to the room. It was a head of Medusa, 
and the frightful stony calm of it struck on Elsmere's 
ruffled nerves with extraordinary force. It flashed 
across him that here was an apt symbol of that ab- 
sorbing and overgrown life of the intellect which 
blights the heart and chills the senses. And to that 
spiritual Medusa, the man before him was not the first 
victim he had known. 

Possessed with the fancy the young man made his 
way into the hall. Arrived there, he looked round with 
a kind of passionate regret: 'Shall I ever see this 
again?' he asked himself. During the past twelve 
months his pleasure in the great house had been much 
more than sensuous. Within those walls his mind had 
grown, had reached to a fuller stature than before, 
and a man loves, or should love all that is associated 
with the maturing of his best self. 

He closed the ponderous doors behind him sadly. 
The magnificent pile, grander than ever in the sunny 
autumnal mist which enwrapped it, seemed to look 
[ 465 ] 


after him as he walked away, mutely wondering, that 
he should have allowed anything so trivial as a peas- 
ant's grievance to come between him and its perfec- 

In the wooded lane outside the rectory gate he over- 
took Catherine. He gave her his report, and they 
walked on together arm-in-arm, a very depressed pair. 

'What shall you do next?' she asked him. 

'Make out the law of the matter,' he said briefly. 

'If you get over the inspector,' said Catherine anx- 
iously, ' I am tolerably certain Henslowe will turn out 
the people.' 

He would not dare, Robert thought. At any rate, 
the law existed for such cases, and it was his bounden 
duty to call the inspector's attention. 

Catherine did not see what good could be done 
thereby, and feared harm. But her wifely chivalry felt 
that he must get through his first serious practical 
trouble his own way. She saw that he felt himself dis- 
tressingly young and inexperienced, and would not 
for the world have harassed him by over-advice. 

So she let him alone, and presently Robert threw 
the matter from him with a sigh.^ 

'Let it be a while,' he said, with a shake of his long 
frame. 'I shall get morbid over it if I don't mind. I 
am a selfish wretch too. I know you have worries of 
your own, wifie.' 

And he took her hand under the trees and kissed it 
with a boyish tenderness. 

'Yes,' said Catherine, sighing, and then paused. 
'Robert/ she burst out again, 'I am certain that man 
[ 466 ] 


made love of a kind to Rose. He will never think of it 
again, but since the night before last she, to my mind, 
is simply a changed creature/ 

'/ don't see it/ said Robert doubtfully. 

Catherine looked at him with a little angel scorn in 
her grey eyes. That men should make their seeing 
in such matters the measure of the visible ! 

' You have been studying the squire, sir I have 
been studying Rose/ 

Then she poured out her heart to him, describing 
the little signs of change and suffering her anxious 
sense had noted, in spite of Rose's proud effort to 
keep all the world, but especially Catherine, at arm's 
length. And at the end her feeling swept her into a 
denunciation of Langham, which was to Robert like 
a breath from the past, from those stern hills wherein 
he met her first. The happiness of their married life 
had so softened or masked all her ruggedness of char- 
acter, that there was a certain joy in seeing those 
strong forces in her which had struck him first reap- 

'Of course I feel myself to blame/ he said when she 
stopped. 'But how could one foresee, with such an 
inveterate hermit and recluse ? And I owed him 
I owe him so much/ 

'I know/ said Catherine, but frowning still. It 
probably seemed to her that that old debt had been 
more than effaced. 

'You will have to send her to Berlin/ said Elsmere 
after a pause. 'You must play off her music against 
this unlucky feeling. If it exists it is your only chance/ 

'Yes, she must go to Berlin/ said Catherine slowly. 
[ 467 ] 


Then presently she looked up, a flash of exquisite 
feeling breaking up the delicate resolution of the 

'I am not sad about that, Robert. Oh, how you 
have widened my world for me ! ' 

Suddenly that hour in Marrisdale came back to her. 
They were in the woodpath. She crept inside her 
husband's arm and put up her face to him, swept away 
by an overmastering impulse of self-humiliating love. 

The next day Robert walked over to the little mar- 
ket town of Churton, saw the discreet and long-estab- 
lished solicitor of the place, and got from him a com- 
plete account of the present state of the rural sanitary 
law. The first step clearly was to move the sanitary 
inspector ; if that failed for any reason, then any bona 
fide inhabitant had an appeal to the local sanitary 
authority, viz. the board of guardians. Robert walked 
home pondering his information, and totally ignor- 
ant that Henslowe, who was always at Churton on 
market-days, had been in the market-place at the 
moment when the rector's tall figure had disappeared 
within Mr. Dunstan's office-door. That door was un- 
pleasantly known to the agent in connexion with some 
energetic measures for raising money he had been 
lately under the necessity of employing, and it had 
a way of attracting his eyes by means of the fascina- 
tion that often attaches to disagreeable objects. 

In the evening Rose was sitting listlessly in the 
drawing-room. Catherine was not there, so her novel 
was on her lap and her eyes were staring intently into 
a world whereof they only had the key. Suddenly 
there was a ring at the bell. The servant came, and 
[ 468 ] 


there were several voices and a sound of much shoe- 
scraping. Then the swing-door leading to the study 
opened and Elsmere and Catherine came out. Els- 
mere stopped with an exclamation. 

His visitors were two men from Mile End. One was 
old Milsom, more sallow and palsied than ever. As 
he stood bent almost double, his old knotted hand 
resting for support on the table beside him, everything 
in the little hall seemed to shake with him. The other 
was Sharland, the handsome father of the twins, whose 
wife had been fed by Catherine with every imaginable 
delicacy since Robert's last visit to the hamlet. Even 
his strong youth had begun to show signs of premature 
decay. The rolling gipsy eyes were growing sunken, 
the limbs dragged a little. 

They had come to implore the rector to let Mile 
End alone. Henslowe had been over there in the aft- 
ernoon, and had given them all very plainly to under- 
stand that if Mr. Elsmere meddled any more they 
would be all turned out at a week's notice to shift as 
they could. 'And if you don't find Thurston Common 
nice lying this weather, with the winter coming on, 
you'll know who to thank for it,' the agent had flung 
behind him as he rode off. 

Robert turned white. Rose, watching the little 
scene with listless eyes, saw him towering over the 
group like an embodiment of wrath and pity. 

'If they turn us out, sir,' said old Milsom, wistfully 
looking up at Elsmere with blear eyes, 'there'll be 
nothing left but the House for u$ old 'uns. Why, lor' 
bless you, sir, it's not so bad but we can make shift.' 

'You, Milsom!' cried Robert; 'and you've just all 
[ 469 ] 


but lost your grandchild ! And you know your wife '11 
never be the same woman since that bout of fever in 
the spring. And ' 

His quick eyes ran over the old man's broken frame 
with a world of indignant meaning in them. 

' Aye, aye, sir, ' said Milsom, unmoved. ' But if it is n't 
fevers, it's summat else. I can make a shilling or two 
where I be, speshally in the first part of the year, in 
the basket-work, and my wife she goes charring up 
at Mr. Carter's farm, and Mr. Dodson, him at the far- 
ther farm, he do give us a bit sometimes. Ef you git us 
turned away it will be a bad day's work for all on us, 
sir, you may take my word on it.' 

'And my wife so ill, Mr. Elsmere,' said Sharland, 
'and all those childer ! I can't walk three miles farther 
to my work, Mr. Elsmere, I can't nohow. I have n't 
got the legs for it. Let un be, sir. We'll rub along/ 

Robert tried to argue the matter. 

If they would but stand by him he would fight the 
matter through, and they should not suffer, if he had 
to get up a public subscription, or support them out 
of his own pocket all the winter. A bold front, and 
Mr. Henslowe must give way. The law was on their 
side, and every labourer in Surrey would be the better 
off for their refusal to be housed like pigs and poisoned 
like vermin. 

In vain. There is an inexhaustible store of cautious 
endurance in the poor against which the keenest re- 
former constantly throws himself in vain. Elsmere 
was beaten. The two men got his word, and shuffled 
off back to their pestilential hovels, a pathetic content 
beaming on each face. 

[ 470 ] 


Catherine and Robert went back into the study. 
Rose heard her brother-in-law's, passionate sigh as the 
door swung behind them. 

'Defeated!' she said to herself with a curious ac- 
cent. 'Well, everybody must have his turn. Robert 
has been too successful in his life, I think. You 
wretch ! ' she added, after a minute, laying her bright 
head down on the book, before her. 

Next morning his wife found Elsmere after break- 
fast busily packing a case of books in the study. They 
were books from the Hall library, which so far had 
been for months the inseparable companions of his 
historical work. 

Catherine stood and watched him sadly. 

'Must you, Robert?' 

' I won't be beholden to that man for anything an 
hour longer than I can help,' he answered her. 

When the packing was nearly finished he came up 
to where she stood in the open window. 

' Things won't be as easy for us in the future, darl- 
ing,' he said to her. 'A rector with both squire and 
agent against him is rather heavily handicapped. We 
must make up our minds to that.' 

'I have no great fear,' she said, looking at him 

'Oh, well nor I perhaps,' he admitted, after 
a moment. 'We can hold our own. But I wish oh, 
I wish' - - and he laid his hand on his wife's shoulder 

- ' I could have made friends with the squire.' 

Catherine looked less responsive. 

'As squire, Robert, or as Mr. Wendover?' 

'As both, of course, but specially as Mr. Wendover.' 
[ 471 ] 


'We can do without his friendship/ she said with 

Robert gave a great stretch, as though to work off 
his regrets. 

'Ah, but/ he said, half to himself, as his arms 
dropped, 'if you are just filled with the hunger to 
know, the people who know as much as the squire 
become very interesting to you ! ' 

Catherine did not answer. But probably her heart 
went out once more in protest against a knowledge 
that was to her but a form of revolt against the awful 
powers of man's destiny. 

'However, here go his books/ said Robert. 

Two days later Mrs. Leyburn and Agnes made their 
appearance, Mrs. Leyburn all in a flutter concerning 
the event over which, in her own opinion, she had 
come to preside. In her gentle fluid mind all impres- 
sions were short-lived. She had forgotten how she had 
brought up her own babies, but Mrs. Thornburgh, 
who had never had any, had filled her full of nursery 
lore. She sat retailing a host of second-hand hints and 
instructions to Catherine, who would every now and 
then lay her hand smiling on her mother's knee, well 
pleased to see the flush of pleasure on the pretty old 
face, and ready, in her patient filial way, to let herself 
be experimented on to the utmost, if it did but make 
the poor foolish thing happy. 

Then came a night when every soul in the quiet 

rectory, even hot, smarting Rose, was possessed by 

one thought through many terrible hours, and one 

only the thought of Catherine's safety. It was 

[ 472 ] 


strange and unexpected, but Catherine, the most nor- 
mal and healthy of women, had a hard struggle for 
her own life and her child's, and it was not till the grey 
autumn morning, after a day and night which left a 
permanent mark on Robert, that he was summoned at 
last, and with the sense of one emerging from black 
gulfs of terror, received from his wife's languid hand 
the tiny fingers of his first-born. 

The days that followed were full of emotion for these 
two people, who were perhaps always over-serious, 
over-sensitive. They had no idea of minimising the 
great common experiences of life. Both of them were 
really simple, brought up in old-fashioned simple ways, 
easily touched, responsive to all that high spiritual 
education which flows from the familiar incidents of 
the human story, approached poetically and passion- 
ately. As the young husband sat in the quiet of his 
wife's room, the occasional restless movements of the 
small brown head against her breast causing the only 
sound perceptible in the country silence, he felt all 
the deep familiar currents of human feeling sweeping 
through him love, reverence, thanksgiving and 
all the walls of the soul, as it were, expanding and en- 
larging as they passed. 

Responsive creature that he was, the experience 
of these days was hardly happiness. It went too deep ; 
it brought him too poignantly near to all that is most 
real and therefore most tragic in life. 

Catherine's recovery also was slower than might 
have been expected, considering her constitutional 
soundness, and for the first week, after that faint mo- 
ment of joy when her child was laid upon her arm, and 
[ 473 ] 


she saw her husband's quivering face above her, there 
was a kind of depression hovering over her. Robert 
felt it, and felt too that all his devotion could not 
soothe it away. At last she said to him one evening, 
in the encroaching September twilight, speaking with 
a sudden hurrying vehemence, wholly unlike herself, 
as though a barrier of reserve had given way, - 

' Robert, I cannot put it out of my head. I cannot 
forget it, the pain of the world !' 

He shut the book he was reading, her hand in his, 
and bent over her with questioning eyes. 

'It seems/ she went on, with that difficulty which 
a strong nature always feels in self -revelation, 'to 
take the joy even out of our love and the child. I 
feel ashamed almost that mere physical pain should 
have laid such hold on me and yet I can't get away 
from it. It's not for myself/ and she smiled faintly 
at him. ' Comparatively I had so little to bear ! But 
I know now for the first time what physical pain 
may mean and I never knew before ! I lie think- 
ing, Robert, about all creatures in pain workmen 
crushed by machinery, or soldiers or poor things 
in hospitals above all of women ! Oh, when I get 
well, how I will take care of the women here ! What 
women must suffer even here in out-of-the-way cot- 
tages no doctor, no kind nursing, all blind agony 
and struggle! And women in London in dens like 
those Mr. Newcome got into, degraded, forsaken, 
ill-treated, the thought of the child only an extra hor- 
ror and burden ! And the pain all the time so merci- 
less, so cruel no escape ! Oh, to give all one is, or 
ever can be, to comforting ! And yet the great sea of 
[ 474 ] 


it one can never touch ! It is a nightmare I am 
weak still, I suppose; I don't know myself; but I can 
see nothing but jarred, tortured creatures everywhere. 
All my own joys and comforts seem to lift me selfishly 
above the common lot.' 

She stopped, her large grey-blue eyes dim with 
tears, trying once more for that habitual self-restraint 
which physical weakness had shaken. 
. 'You are weak/ he said, caressing her, 'and that 
destroys for a time the normal balance of things. It 
is true, darling, but we are not meant to see it always 
so clearly. God knows we could not bear it if we did/ 

'And to think/ she said, shuddering a little, 'that 
there are men and women who in the face of it can 
still refuse Christ and the Cross, can still say this life 
is all! How can they live how dare they live?' 

Then he saw that not only man's pain, but man's 
defiance, had been haunting her, and he guessed what 
persons and memories had been flitting through her 
mind. But he dared not talk lest she should exhaust 
herself. Presently, seeing a volume of Augustine's 
'Confessions/ her favourite book, lying beside her, 
he took it up, turning over the pages, and weaving 
passages together as they caught his eye. 

'Speak to me, for Thy compassion's sake, Lord my 
God, and tell me what art Thou to me ! Say unto my 
soul, "I am thy salvation !" Speak it that I may hear. 
Behold the ears of my heart, Lord ; open them and 
say unto my soul, "I am thy salvation !" I will follow 
after this voice of Thine, I will lay hold on Thee. The 
temple of my soul, wherein Thou shouldest enter, is nar- 
row ', do Thou enlarge it. It falleth into ruins do Thou 
[ 475 ] 


rebuild it ! . . . Woe to that bold soul which hopeth, if 
it do but let Thee go, to find something better than Thee ! 
It turneth hither and thither, on this side and on that> 
and all things are hard and bitter unto it. For Thou 
only art . rest ! . . . Whithersoever the soul of man 
turneth it findeth sorrow, except only in Thee. Fix there, 
then, thy resting-place, my soul ! Lay up in Him what- 
ever thou hast received from Him. Commend to the keep- 
ing of the Truth whatever the Truth hath given thee, and 
thou shalt lose nothing. And thy dead things shall re- 
vive and thy weak things shall be made whole !' 

She listened, appropriating and clinging to every 
word, till the nervous clasp of the long delicate fingers 
relaxed, her head dropped a little, gently, against the 
head of the child, and tired with much feeling she slept. 

Robert slipped away and strolled out into the 
garden in the fast-gathering darkness. His mind was 
full of that intense spiritual life of Catherine's which 
in its wonderful self-containedness and strength was 
always a marvel, sometimes a reproach, to him. Be- 
side her, he seemed to himself a light creature, drawn 
hither and thither by this interest and by that, tan- 
gled in the fleeting shows of things the toy and 
plaything of circumstance. He thought ruefully and 
humbly, as he wandered on through the dusk, of his 
own lack of inwardness : ' Everything divides me from 
Thee ! ' he could have cried in St. Augustine's manner. 
' Books, and friends, and work all seem to hide 
Thee from me. Why am I so passionate for this and 
that, for all these sections and fragments of Thee? 
Oh, for the One, the All ! Fix there thy resting-place, 
my soul ! ' 

[ 476 ] 


And presently, after this cry of self-reproach, he 
turned to muse on that intuition of the world's pain 
which had been troubling Catherine, shrinking from 
it even more than she had shrunk from it, in propor- 
tion as his nature was more imaginative than hers. 
And Christ the only clue, the only remedy no other 
anywhere in this vast universe, where all men are 
under sentence of death, where the whole creation 
groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now! 

And yet what countless generations of men had 
borne their pain, knowing nothing of the one Healer. 
He thought of Buddhist patience and Buddhist char- 
ity; of the long centuries during which Chaldean or 
Persian or Egyptian lived, suffered, and died, trusting 
the gods they knew. And how many other genera- 
tions, nominally children of the Great Hope, had used 
it as the mere instrument of passion or of hate, cursing 
in the name of love, destroying in the name of pity ! 
For how much of the world's pain was not Christian- 
ity itself responsible? His thoughts recurred with a 
kind of anguished perplexity to some of the problems 
stirred in him of late by his historical reading. The 
strifes and feuds and violences of the early Church 
returned to weigh upon him the hair-splitting su- 
perstition, the selfish passion for power. He recalled 
Gibbon's lamentation over the age of the Antonines, 
and Mommsen's grave doubt whether, taken as a 
whole, the area once covered by the Roman Empire 
can be said to be substantially happier now than in the 
days of Severus. 

corruptio optimi ! That men should have been so 
little affected by that shining ideal of the New Jeru- 
[ 477 ] 


salem, 'descended out of Heaven from God/ into 
their very midst that the print of the 'blessed feet' 
along the world's highway should have been so often 
buried in the sands of cruelty and fraud ! 

The September wind blew about him as he strolled 
through the darkening cblumn, set thick with great 
bushes of sombre juniper among the yellowing fern, 
which stretched away on the left-hand side of the 
road leading to the Hall. He stood and watched the 
masses of restless discordant cloud which the sunset 
had left behind it, thinking the while of Mr. Grey, of 
his assertions and his denials. Certain phrases of his 
which Robert had heard drop from him on one or two 
rare occasions during the later stages of his Oxford 
life ran through his head. 

'The fairy-tale of Christianity' --' The origins of 
Christian Mythology.' He could recall, as the words 
rose in his memory, the simplicity of the rugged face, 
and the melancholy mingled with fire which had al- 
ways marked the great tutor's sayings about religion. 

'Fairy-tale!' Could any reasonable man watch 
a life like Catherine's and believe that nothing but a 
delusion lay at the heart of it? And as he asked the 
question, he seemed to hear Mr. Grey's answer: 'All 
religions are true, and all are false. In them all, more 
or less visibly, man grasps at the one thing needful 
- self forsaken, God laid hold of. The spirit in them 
all is the same, answers eternally to reality; it is but 
the letter, the fashion, the imagery, that are relative 
and changing.' 

He turned and walked homeward, struggling, with 
a host of tempestuous ideas as swift and varying as the 
[ 478 ] 


autumn clouds hurrying overhead. And then, through 
a break in a line of trees, he caught sight of the tower 
and chancel window of the little church. In an instant 
he had a vision of early summer mornings dewy, 
perfumed, silent, save for the birds, and all the soft 
stir of rural birth and growth, of a chancel fragrant 
with many flowers, of a distant church with scattered 
figures, of the kneeling form of his wife close beside 
him, himself bending over her, the sacrament of the 
Lord's death in his hand. The emotion, the intensity, 
the absolute self-surrender of innumerable such mo- 
ments in the past moments of a common faith, a 
common self-abasement came flooding back upon 
him. With a movement of joy and penitence he threw 
himself at the feet of Catherine's Master and his own : 
' Fix there thy resting-place, my soul!' 


CATHERINE'S later convalescence dwelt in her mind 
in after years as a time of peculiar softness and peace. 
Her baby-girl throve; Robert had driven the squire 
and Henslowe out of his mind, and was all eagerness 
as to certain negotiations with a famous naturalist for 
a lecture at the village club. At Mile End, as though 
to put the rector in the wrong, serious illness had for 
the time disappeared ; and Mrs. Leyburn's mild chat- 
ter, as she gently poked about the house and garden, 
went out in Catherine's pony-carriage, inspected 
Catherine's stores, and hovered over Catherine's babe, 
had a constantly cheering effect on the still languid 
mother. Like all theorists, especially those at second- 
hand, Mrs. Leyburn's maxims had been very much 
routed by the event. The babe had ailments she did 
not understand, or it developed likes and dislikes she 
had forgotten existed in babies, and Mrs. Leyburn 
was nonplussed. She would sit with it on her lap, 
anxiously studying its peculiarities. She was sure it 
squinted, that its back was weaker than other babies, 
/that it cried more than hers had ever done. She loved 
to be plaintive ; it would have seemed to her unlady- 
like to be too cheerful, even over a first grandchild. 

Agnes meanwhile made herself practically useful, 
as was her way, and she did almost more than any- 
body to beguile Catherine's recovery by her hours of 
Long Whindale chat. She had no passionate feeling 
about the place and the people as Catherine had, but 
[ 480 ] 


she was easily content, and she had a good wholesome 
feminine curiosity as to the courtings and weddings 
and buryings of the human beings about her. So she 
would sit and chat, working the while with the quick- 
est, neatest of fingers, till Catherine knew as much 
about Jenny Tyson's Whinborough lover, and Farmer 
TredalFs troubles with his son, and the way in which 
that odious woman Molly Redgold bullied her little 
consumptive husband, as Agnes knew, which was saying 
a good deal. 

About themselves Agnes was frankness itself. 

' Since you went/ she would say, with a shrug, 'I 
keep the coach steady, perhaps, but Rose drives, and 
we shall have to go where she takes us. By the way, 
Cathie, what have you been doing to her here? She is 
not a bit like herself. I don't generally mind being 
snubbed. It amuses her and does n't hurt me; and, 
of course, I know I am meant to be her foil. But, 
really, sometimes she is too bad even for me/ 

Catherine sighed, but held her peace. Like all strong 
persons, she kept things very much to herself. It only 
made vexations more real to talk about them. But 
she and Agnes discussed the winter and Berlin. 

'You had better let her go/ said Agnes signi- 
ficantly; 'she will go anyhow/ 

A few days afterwards Catherine, opening the draw- 
ing-room door unexpectedly, came upon Rose sitting 
idly at the piano, her hands resting on the keys, and 
her great grey eyes straining out of her white face with 
an expression which sent the sister's heart into her 

' How you steal about, Catherine ! ' cried the player, 
[ 481 ] 


getting up and shutting the piano. ' I declare you are 
just like Millais's Grey Lady in that ghostly gown/ 

Catherine came swiftly across the floor. She had 
just left her child, and the sweet dignity of mother- 
hood was in her step, her look. She came and threw 
her arms round the girl. ' 

'Rose, dear, I have settled it all with mamma. 
The money can be managed, and you shall go to Ber- 
lin for the winter when you like/ 

She drew herself back a little, still with her arms 
round Rose's waist, and looked at her smiling, to see 
how she took it. 

Rose had a strange movement of irritation. She 
drew herself out of Catherine's grasp. 

' I don't know that I had settled on Berlin,' she said 
coldly. 'Very possibly Leipsic would be better/ 

Catherine's face fell. 

'Whichever you like, dear. I have been thinking 
about it ever .since that day you spoke of it you 
remember and now I have talked it over with 
mamma. If she can't manage all the expense we will 
help. Oh, Rose,' and she came nearer again, timidly, 
her eyes melting, ' I know we have n't understood each 
other. I have been ignorant, I think, and narrow. But 
I meant it for the best, dear I did ' 

Her voice failed her, but in her look there seemed 
to be written the history of all the prayers and yearn- 
ings of her youth over the pretty wayward child who 
had been her joy and torment. Rose could not but 
meet that look its nobleness, its humble surrender. 

Suddenly two large tears rolled down her cheeks. 
She dashed them away impatiently. 
[ 482 ] 


' I am not a bit well/ she said, as though in irritable 
excuse both to herself and Catherine. ' I believe I have 
had a headache for a fortnight.' 

And then she put her arms down on a table near and 
hid her face upon them. She was one bundle of jarring 
nerves sore, poor passionate child, that she was 
betraying herself; sorer still that, as she told herself, 
Catherine was sending her to Berlin as a consolation. 
When girls have love-troubles the first thing their 
elders do is to look for a diversion. She felt sick and 
humiliated. Catherine had been talking her over with 
the family, she supposed. 

Meanwhile Catherine stood by her tenderly, stroking 
her hair and saying soothing things. 

' I am sure you will be happy at Berlin, Rose. And 
you must n't leave me out of your life, dear, though 
I am so stupid and unmusical. You must write to 
me about all you do. We must begin a new time. Oh, 
I feel so guilty sometimes/ she went on, falling into 
a low intensity of voice that startled Rose, and made 
her look hurriedly up. ' I fought against your music, 
I suppose, because I thought it was devouring you 
leaving no room for for religion for God. I was 
jealous of it for Christ's sake. And all the time I was 
blundering! Oh, Rose/ and she sank on her knees 
beside the chair, resting her head against the girl's 
shoulder, 'papa charged me to make you love God, 
and I torture myself with thinking that, instead, it 
has been my doing, my foolish clumsy doing, that you 
have come to think religion dull and hard. Oh, my 
darling, if I could make amends if I could get you 
not to love your art less but to love it in God ! Christ 
[ 483 ] 


is the first reality ; all things else are real and lovely 
in Him. Oh, I have been frightening you away from 
Him ! I ought to have drawn you near. I have been 
so so silent, so shut up, I have never tried to make 
you feel what it was kept me at His feet ! Oh, Rose, 
darling, you think the world real, and pleasure and 
enjoyment real. But if I could have made you see 
and know the things I have seen up in the mountains 
among the poor, the dying you would have felt 
Him saving, redeeming, interceding, as I did. Oh, 
then you must, you would have known that Christ 
only is real, that our joys can only truly exist in Him. 
I should have been more open more faithful 
more humble/ 

She paused with a long quivering sigh. Rose sud- 
denly lifted herself, and they fell into each other's arms. 

Rose, shaken and excited, thought, of course, of 
that night at Burwood, when she had won leave to go 
to Manchester. This scene was the sequel to that 
the next stage in one and the same process. Her feeling 
was much the same as that of the naturalist who comes 
close to any of the hidden operations of life. She had 
come near to Catherine's spirit in the growing. Beside 
that sweet expansion, how poor and feverish and 
earth-stained the poor child felt herself ! 

But there were many currents in Rose many 
things striving for the mastery. She kissed Catherine 
once or twice, then she drew herself back suddenly, 
looking into the other's face. A great wave of feeling 
rushed up and broke. 

'Catherine, could you ever have married a man that 
did not believe in Christ?' 

[ 484 ] 


She flung the question out a kind of morbid curi- 
osity, a wild wish to find an outlet of some sort for 
things pent up in her, driving her on. 

Catherine started. But she met Rose's half -frown- 
ing eyes steadily. 

'Never, Rose! To me it would not be marriage/ 

The child's face lost its softness. She drew one hand 

'What have we to do with it?' she cried. 'Each one 
for himself/ 

'But marriage makes two one/ said Catherine, pale, 
but with a firm clearness. 'And if husband and wife 
are only one in body and estate, not one in soul, why, 
who that believes in the soul would accept such a bond, 
endure such a miserable second-best?' 

She rose. But though her voice had recovered all its 
energy, her attitude, her look was still tenderness, still 
yearning itself. 

'Religion does not fill up the soul/ said Rose slowly. 
Then she added carelessly, a passionate red flying into 
her cheek against her will, ' However, I cannot imag- 
ine any question that interests me personally less. I 
was curious what you would say/ 

And she too got up, drawing her hand lightly along 
the keyboard of the piano. Her pose had a kind of 
defiance in it ; her knit brows forbade Catherine to ask 
questions. Catherine stood irresolute. Should she 
throw herself on her sister, imploring her to speak, 
opening her own heart on the subject of this wild un- 
happy fancy for a man who would never think again 
of the child he had played with? 

But the North-country dread of words, of speech 
[ 485 ] 


that only defines and magnifies, prevailed. Let there 
be no words, but let her love and watch. 

So, after a moment's pause, she began in a different 
tone upon the inquiries she had been making, the 
arrangements that would be wanted for this musical 
winter. Rose was almost listless at first. A stranger 
would have thought she was being persuaded into 
something against her will. But she could not keep it 
up. The natural instinct reasserted itself, and she was 
soon planning and deciding as sharply, and with as 
much young omniscience, as usual. 

By the evening it was settled. Mrs. Leyburn, much 
bewildered, asked Catherine doubtfully, the last thing 
at night, whether she wanted Rose to be a professional. 
Catherine exclaimed. 

'But, my dear/ said the widow, staring pensively 
into her bedroom fire, 'what's she to do with all this 
music?' Then after a second she added half -severely, 
' I don't believe her father would have liked it ; I don't, 
indeed, Catherine!' 

Poor Catherine smiled and sighed in the background, 
but made no reply. 

' However, she never looks so pretty as when she 's 
playing the violin never!' said Mrs. Leyburn 
presently in the distance, with a long breath of satis- 
faction. 'She's got such a lovely hand and arm, Cath- 
erine! They're prettier than mine, and even your 
father used to notice mine/ 

'Even. 1 The word had a little ound of bitterness. 
In spite of all his love, had the gentle puzzle-headed 
woman found her unearthly husband often very hard 
to live with? 

[ 486 ] 


Rose meanwhile was sitting up in bed, with her 
hands round her knees, dreaming. So she had got her 
heart's desire ! There did not seem to be much joy in 
the getting, but that was the way of things, one was 
told. She knew she should hate the Germans great, 
bouncing, over-fed, sentimental creatures! 

Then her thoughts ran into the future. After six 
months yes, by April she would be home, and 
Agnes and her mother could meet her in London. Lon- 
don. Ah, it was London she was thinking of all the 
time, not Berlin ! She could not stay in the present ; 
or rather the Rose of the present went straining to the 
Rose of the future, asking to be righted, to be avenged. 

' I will learn I will learn fast many things be- 
sides music ! ' she said to herself feverishly. ' By April 
I shall be much cleverer. Oh, then I won't be a fool so 
easily. We shall be sure to meet, of course. But he 
shall find out that it was only a child, only a silly soft- 
hearted baby he played with down here. I shan't care 
for him in the least, of course not, not after six months. 
I don't mean to. And I will make him know it oh, 
I will, though he is so wise, and so much older, and 
mounts on such stilts when he pleases!' 

So once more Rose flung her defiance at fate. But 
when Catherine came along the passage an hour later 
she heard low sounds from Rose's room, which ceased 
abruptly as her step drew near. The elder sister 
paused ; her eyes filled with tears; her hand closed in- 
dignantly. Then she came closer, all but went in, 
thought better of it, and moved away. If there is any 
truth in brain-waves, Langham should have slept 
restlessly that night. 

[ 487 ] 


Ten days later an escort had been found, all pre- 
parations had been made, and Rose was gone. 

Mrs. Leyburn and Agnes lingered a while, and then 
they too departed under an engagement to come back 
after Christmas for a long stay, that Mrs. Leyburn 
might cheat the Northern 'spring a little. 

So husband and wife were alone again. How they 
relished their solitude! Catherine took up many 
threads of work which her months of comparative 
weakness had forced her to let drop. She taught vigor- 
ously in the school; in the afternoons, so far as her 
child would let her, she carried her tender presence 
and her practical knowledge of nursing to the sick and 
feeble ; and on two evenings in the week she and Robert 
threw open a little room there was on the ground-floor 
between the study and the dining-room to the women 
and girls of the village, as a sort of drawing-room. 
Hard-worked mothers would come, who had put their 
fretful babes to sleep, and given their lords to eat, and 
had just energy left, while the eldest daughter watched, 
and the men were at the club or the ' Blue Boar/ to put 
on a clean apron and climb the short hill to the rectory. 
Once there, there was nothing to think of for an hour 
but the bright room, Catherine's kind face, the rector's 
jokes, and the illustrated papers or the photographs 
that were spread out for them to look at if they would. 
The girls learned to come, because Catherine could 
teach them a simple dressmaking, and was clever in 
catching stray persons to set them singing; and be- 
cause Mr. Elsmere read exciting stories, and because 
nothing any one of them ever told Mrs. Elsmere was 
[ 488 ] 


forgotten by her, or failed to interest her. Any of her 
social equals of the neighbourhood would have hardly 
recognised the reserved and stately Catherine on these 
occasions. Here she felt herself at home, at ease. She 
would never, indeed, have Robert's pliancy, his quick 
divination, and for some time after her transplanting, 
the North-country woman had found it very difficult 
to suit herself to a new shade of local character. But 
she was learning from Robert every day ; she watched 
him among the poor, recognising all his gifts with a 
humble intensity of admiring love, which said little 
but treasured everything, and for herself her inward 
happiness and peace shone through her quiet ways, 
making her the mother and the friend of all about 

As for Robert, he, of course, was living at high press- 
ure all round. Outside his sermons and his school, 
his Natural History Club had perhaps most of his 
heart, and the passion for science, little continuous 
work as he was able to give it, grew on him more and 
more. He kept up as best he could, working with one 
hand, so to speak, when he could not spare two, andi 
in his long rambles over moor and hill, gathering iir. 
with his quick eye a harvest of local fact wherewith 
to feed their knowledge and his own. 

The mornings he always spent at work among his 
books, the afternoons in endless tramps over the par- 
ish, sometimes alone, sometimes with Catherine ; and 
in the evenings, if Catherine was 'at home* twice a 
week to womankind, he had his nights when his study 
became the haunt and prey of half the boys in the 
place, who were free of everything, as soon as he had 
[ 489 ] 


taught them to respect his books, and not to taste his 
medicines; other nights when he was lecturing or 
story-telling in the club or in some outlying hamlet; 
or others again, when with Catherine beside him he 
would sit trying to think some of that religious passion 
which burned in both their hearts, into clear words or 
striking illustrations for his sermons. 

Then his choir was much upon his mind. He knew 
nothing about music, nor did Catherine ; their efforts 
made Rose laugh irreverently when she got their let- 
ters at Berlin. But Robert believed in a choir chiefly 
as an excellent social and centralising instrument. 
There had been none in Mr. Preston's day. He was 
determined to have one, and a good one, and by sheer 
energy he succeeded, delighting in his boyish way over 
the opposition some of his novelties excited among the 
older and more stiff -backed inhabitants. 

' Let them talk/ he would say brightly to Catherine. 
' They will come round ; and talk is good. Anything to 
make them think, to stir the pool!' 

Of course that old problem of the agricultural 
labourer weighed upon him his grievances, his 
wants. He went about pondering the English land 
system, more than half-inclined one day to sink part 
of his capital in a peasant-proprietor experiment, and 
ingulfed the next in all the moral and economical ob- 
jections to the French system. Land for allotments, at 
any rate, he had set his heart on. But in this direction, 
as in many others, the way was barred. All the land 
in the parish was the squire's, and not one inch of the 
squire's land would Henslowe let young Elsmere have 
anything to do with if he knew it. He would neither 
[ 490 ] 


repair nor enlarge the Workmen's Institute; and he 
had a way of forgetting the squire's customary sub- 
scriptions to parochial objects, always paid through 
him, which gave him much food for chuckling when- 
ever he passed Elsmere in the country lanes. The 
man's coarse insolence and mean hatred made them- 
selves felt at every turn, besmirching and embitter- 

Still it was very true that neither Henslowe nor the 
squire could do Robert much harm. His hold on 
the parish was visibly strengthening ; his sermons were 
not only filling the church with his own parishioners, 
but attracting hearers from the districts round Mure- 
well, so that even on these winter Sundays there was 
almost always a sprinkling of strange faces among 
the congregation ; and his position in the county and 
diocese was becoming every month more honourable 
and important. The gentry about showed them much 
kindness, and would have shown them much hospital- 
ity if they had been allowed. But though Robert had 
nothing of the ascetic about him, and liked the society 
of his equals as much as most good-tempered and 
vivacious people do, he and Catherine decided that 
for the present they had no time to spare for visits 
and county society. Still, of course, there were many 
occasions on which the routine of their life brought 
them across their neighbours, and it began to be pretty 
widely recognised that Elsmere was a young fellow 
of unusual promise and intelligence, that his wife too 
was remarkable, and that between them they were 
likely to raise the standard of clerical effort consider- 
ably in their part of Surrey. 

[ 491 ] 


All the factors of this life his work, his influence, 
his recovered health, the lavish beauty of the country 
- Elsmere enjoyed with all his heart. But at the root 
of all there lay what gave value and savour to every- 
thing else that exquisite home-life of theirs, that 
tender, triple bond of husband, wife, and child. 

Catherine, coming home tired from teaching or 
visiting, would find her step quickening as she reached 
the gate of the rectory, and the sense of delicious pos- 
session waking up in her, which is one of the first fruits 
of motherhood. There, at the window, between the 
lamplight behind and the winter dusk outside, would 
be the child in its nurse's arms, little wondering mot- 
iveless smiles passing over the tiny puckered face that 
was so oddly like Robert's already. And afterwards, 
in the fire-lit nursery, with the bath in front of the 
high fender, and all the necessaries of baby-life beside 
it, she would go through those functions which mothers 
love and linger over, let the kicking dimpled creature 
principally concerned protest as it may against the 
over-refinements of civilisation. Then, when the little 
restless voice was stilled, and the cradle left silent in 
the darkened room, there would come the short watch- 
ing for Robert, his voice, his kiss, their simple meal 
together, a moment of rest, of laughter and chat, 
before some fresh effort claimed them. Every now 
and then white-letter days there would drop on 
them a long evening together. Then out would come 
one of the few books Dante or Virgil or Milton - 
which had entered into the fibre of Catherine's strong 
nature. The two heads would draw close over them, 
or Robert would take some thought of hers as a text, 
[ 492 ] 


and spout away from the hearthrug, watching all the 
while for her smile, her look of assent. Sometimes, 
late at night, when there was a sermon on his mind, 
he would dive into his pocket for his Greek Testament 
and make her read, partly for the sake of teaching 
her for she knew some Greek and longed to know 
more but mostly that he might get from her some of 
that garnered wealth of spiritual experience which 
he adored in her. They would go from verse to verse, 
from thought to thought, till suddenly perhaps the 
tide of feeling would rise, and while the wind swept 
round the house, and the owls hooted in the elms, they 
would sit hand in hand, lost in love and faith Christ 
near them Eternity, warm with God, enwrapping 

So much for the man of action, the husband, the 
philanthropist. In reality, great as was the moral 
energy of this period of Elsmere's life, the dominant 
distinguishing note of it was not moral but intellectual. 

In matters of conduct he was but developing habits 
and tendencies already strongly present in him; in 
matters of thinking, with every month of this winter 
he was becoming conscious of fresh forces, fresh hun- 
ger, fresh horizons. 

'One half of your day be the king of your world/ Mr. 
Grey had said to him; 'the other half be the slave of 
something which will take you out of your world, into 
the general life, the life of thought, of man as a whole, 
of the universe.' 

The counsel, as we have seen, had struck root and 
flowered into action. So many men of Elsmere's type 
.[ 493 ] 


give themselves up once and for all as they become 
mature to the life of doing and feeling, practically 
excluding the life of thought. It was Henry Grey's in- 
fluence in all probability, perhaps, too, the training of 
an earlier Langham, that saved for Elsmere the life 
of thought. 

The form taken by this training of his own mind 
he had been thus encouraged not to abandon, was, as 
we know, the study of history. He had well mapped 
out before him that book on the origins of France 
which he had described to Langham. It was to take 
him years, of course, and meanwhile, in his first en- 
thusiasm, he was like a child, revelling in the treasure 
of work that lay before him. As he had told Langham, 
he had just got below the surface of a great subject 
and was beginning to dig into the roots of it. Hitherto 
he had been under the guidance of men of his own day, 
of the nineteenth-century historian, who refashions 
the past on the lines of his own mind, who gives it 
rationality, coherence, and, as it were, modernness, so 
that the main impression he produces on us, so long 
as we look at that past through him only, is on the 
whole an impression of continuity, of resemblance. 

Whereas, on the contrary, the first impression left 
on a man by the attempt to plunge into the materials 
of history for himself is almost always an extraordin- 
arily sharp impression of difference, of contrast. Ulti- 
mately, of course, he sees that these men and women 
whose letters and biographies, whose creeds and gen- 
eral conceptions he is investigating, are in truth his 
ancestors, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh. But at 
first the student who goes back, say, in the history of 
[ 494 ] 


Europe, behind the Renaissance or behind the Cru- 
sades into the actual deposits of the past, is often 
struck with a kind of vertige. The men and women 
whom he has dragged forth into the light of his own 
mind are to him like some strange puppet-show. They 
are called by names he knows kings, bishops, 
judges, poets, priests, men of letters but what a 
gulf between him and them ! What motives, what be- 
liefs, what embryonic processes of thought and morals, 
what bizarre combinations of ignorance and know- 
ledge, of the highest sanctity with the lowest credulity 
or falsehood ; what extraordinary prepossessions, born 
with a man and tainting his whole ways of seeing 
and thinking from childhood to the grave ! Amid all 
the intellectual dislocation of the spectacle, indeed, 
he perceives certain Greeks and certain Latins who 
represent a forward strain, who belong as it seems to 
a world of their own, a world ahead of them. To them 
he stretches out his hand: 'You/ he says to them, 
' though your priests spoke to you not of Christ, but of 
Zeus and Artemis, you are really my kindred ! ' But 
intellectually they stand alone. Around them, after 
them, for long ages the world 'spake as a child, felt as 
a child, understood as a child/ 

Then he sees what it is makes the difference, digs 
the gulf. 'Science/ the mind cries, ' ordered knowledge.' 
And so for the first time the modern recognises what 
the accumulations of his forefathers have done for him. 
He takes the torch which man has been so long and 
patiently fashioning to his hand, and turns it on the 
past, and at every step the sight grows stranger, and 
yet more moving, more pathetic. The darkness into 
[ 495 ] 


which he penetrates does but make him grasp his 
own guiding light the more closely. And yet, bit by 
bit, it has been prepared for him by these groping 
half-conscious generations, and the scrutiny which 
began in repulsion and laughter ends in a marvelling 

But the repulsion and the laughter come first, and 
during this winter of work Elsmere felt them both 
very strongly. He would sit in the morning buried 
among the records of decaying Rome and emerging 
France, surrounded by Chronicles, by Church Councils, 
by Lives of the Saints, by primitive systems of law, 
pushing his imaginative impetuous way through them. 
Sometimes Catherine would be there, and he would 
pour out on her something of what was in his own 

One day he was deep in the Life of a certain saint. 
The saint had been bishop of a diocese in Southern 
France. His biographer was his successor in the see, 
a man of high political importance in the Burgundian 
state, renowned besides for sanctity and learning. 
Only some twenty years separated the biography, at 
the latest, from the death of its subject. It contained 
some curious material for social history, and Robert 
was reading it with avidity. But it was, of course, a 
tissue of marvels. The young bishop had practised 
every virtue known to the time, and wrought every 
conceivable miracle, and the miracles were better told 
than usual, with more ingenuity, more imagination. 
Perhaps on that account they struck the reader's 
sense more sharply. 

'And the saint said to the sorcerers and to the prac- 
[ 496 ] 


tisers of unholy arts, that they should do those evil 
things no more, for he had bound the spirits of whom 
they were wont to inquire, and they would get no fur- 
ther answers to their incantations. Then those stiff- 
necked sons of the Devil fell upon the man of God, 
scourged him sore, and threatened him with death, 
if he would not instantly loose those spirits he had 
bound. And seeing he could prevail nothing, and 
being, moreover, admonished by God so to do, he 
permitted them to work their own damnation. For 
he called for a parchment and wrote upon it, "Am- 
brose unto Satan Enter !" Then was the spell loosed, 
the spirits returned, the sorcerers inquired as they 
were accustomed, and received answers. But in a 
short space of time every one of them perished miser- 
ably and was delivered unto his natural lord Satanas, 
whereunto he belonged/ 

Robert made a hasty exclamation, and turning to 
Catherine, who was working beside him, read the 
passage to her, with a few words as to the book and 
its author. 

Catherine's work dropped a moment on to her knee. 
'What extraordinary superstition!' she said, startled. 
'A bishop, Robert, and an educated man?' 

Robert nodded. 

'But it is the whole habit of mind,' he said half to 
himself, staring into the fire, 'that is so astounding. 
No one escapes it. The whole age really is non-sane.' 

'I suppose the devout Catholic would believe that?' 

1 1 am not sure,' said Robert dreamily, and remained 
sunk in thought for long after, while Catherine worked, 
and pondered a Christmas entertainment for her girls. 
[ 497 ] 


Perhaps it was his scientific work, fragmentary as 
it was, that was really quickening and sharpening 
these historical impressions of his. Evolution once 
a mere germ in the mind was beginning to press, to 
encroach, to intermeddle with the mind's other furni- 
ture. And the comparative instinct that tool, par 
excellence, of modern science was at last fully awake, 
was growing fast, taking hold, now here, now there. 

'It is tolerably clear to me/ he said to himself sud- 
denly one winter afternoon, as he was trudging home 
alone from Mile End, 'that some day or other I must 
set to work to bring a little order into one's notions 
of the Old Testament. At present they are just a 

He walked on a while, struggling with the rainstorm 
which had overtaken him, till again the mind's quick 
life took voice. 

'But what matter? God in the beginning God 
in the prophets in Israel's best life God in Christ ! 
How are any theories about the Pentateuch to touch 

And into the clear eyes, the young face aglow with 
wind and rain, there leapt a light, a softness indescrib- 

But the vivider and the keener grew this new mental 
life of Elsmere's, the more constant became his sense 
of soreness as to that foolish and motiveless quarrel 
which divided him from the squire. Naturally he was 
for ever being harassed and pulled up in his work by 
the mere loss of the Murewell library. To have such 
a collection so close, and to be cut off from it, was a 
state of things no student could help feeling severely. 
[ 498 ] 


But it was much more than that : it was the man he 
hankered after; the man who was a master where 
he was a beginner ; the man who had given his life to 
learning, and was carrying all his vast accumulations 
sombrely to the grave, unused, untransmitted. 

'He might have given me his knowledge/ thought 
Elsmere sadly, 'and I I would have been a son 
to him. Why is life so perverse?' 

Meanwhile he was as much cut off from the great 
house and its master as though both had been sur- 
rounded by the thorn hedge of fairy-tale. The Hall had 
its visitors during these winter months, but the Els- 
meres saw nothing of them. Robert gulped down a 
natural sigh when one Saturday evening, as he passed 
the Hall gates, he saw driving through them the chief 
of English science side by side with the most accom- 
plished of English critics. 

' "There are good times in the world and I ain't in 
'em !" ' he said to himself with a laugh and a shrug as 
he turned up the lane to the rectory, and then, boy- 
like, was ashamed of himself, and greeted Catherine 
with all the tenderer greeting. 

Only on two occasions during three months could 1 
he be sure of having seen the squire. Both were in 
the twilight, when, as the neighbourhood declared, Mr. 
Wendover always walked, and both made a sharp im- 
pression on the rector's nerves. In the heart of one of 
the loneliest commons of the parish Robert, swinging 
along one November evening through the scattered 
furze bushes, growing ghostly in the darkness, was 
suddenly conscious of a cloaked figure with slouching 
shoulders and head bent forward coming towards him. 
[ 499 ] 


It passed without recognition of any kind, and for an 
instant Robert caught the long sharpened features and 
haughty eyes of the squire. 

At another time Robert was walking, far from home, 
along a bit of level road. The pools in the ruts were 
just filmed with frost, and 'gleamed under the sunset ; 
the winter dusk was clear and chill. A horseman 
turned into the road from a side lane. It was the 
squire again, alone. The sharp sound of the approach- 
ing hoofs stirred Robert's pulse, and as they passed 
each other the rector raised his hat. He thought his 
greeting was acknowledged, but could not be quite 
sure. From the shelter of a group of trees he stood a 
moment and looked after the retreating figure. It and 
the horse showed dark against a wide sky barred by 
stormy reds and purples. The wind whistled through 
the withered oaks; the long road with its lines of glim- 
mering pools seemed to stretch endlessly into the sun- 
set; and with every minute the night strode on. Age 
and loneliness could have found no fitter setting. A 
shiver ran through Elsmere as he stepped forward. 

Undoubtedly the quarrel, helped by his work, and 
the perpetual presence of that beautiful house com- 
manding the whole country round it from its plateau 
above the river, kept Elsmere specially in mind of the 
squire. As before their first meeting, and in spite of it, 
he became more and more imaginatively preoccupied 
with him. One of the signs of it was a strong desire 
to read the squire's two famous books : one, ' The Idols 
of the Market-place/ an attack on English beliefs; the 
other, 'Essays on English Culture/ an attack on Eng- 
lish ideals of education. He had never come across 
[ 500 ] 


them as it happened, and perhaps Newcome's denun- 
ciation had some effect in inducing him for a time to 
refrain from reading them. But in December he or- 
dered them and waited their coming with impatience. 
He said nothing of the order to Catherine; somehow 
there were by now two or three portions of his work, 
two or three branches of his thought, which had fallen 
out of their common discussion. After all she was not 
literary, and with all their oneness of soul there could 
not be an identity of interests or pursuits. 

The books arrived in the morning. (Oh, how dis- 
mally well, with what a tightening of the heart, did 
Robert always remember that day in after years!) 
He was much too busy to look at them, and went off 
to a meeting. In the evening, coming home late from 
his night-school, he found Catherine tired, sent her to 
bed, and went himself into his study to put together 
some notes for a cottage lecture he was to give the 
following day. The packet of books, unopened, lay on 
his writing-table. He took off the wrapper, and in his 
eager way fell to reading the first he touched. 

It was the first volume of 'The Idols of the Market- 

Ten or twelve years before, Mr. Wendover had 
launched this book into a startled and protesting 
England. It had been the fruit of his first renewal of 
contact with English life and English ideas after his 
return from Berlin. Fresh from the speculative fer- 
ment of Germany and the far profaner scepticism of 
France, he had returned to a society where the first 
chapter of Genesis and the theory of verbal inspiration 
were still regarded as valid and important counters 
[ 501 ] 


on the board of thought. The result had been this 
book. In it each stronghold of English popular religion 
had been assailed in turn, at a time when English 
orthodoxy was a far more formidable thing than it is 

The Pentateuch, the Prophets, the Gospels, St. 
Paul, Tradition, the Fathers, Protestantism and Justi- 
fication by Faith, the Eighteenth Century, the Broad 
Church Movement, Anglican Theology the squire had 
his say about them all. And while the coolness and 
frankness of the method sent a shock of indignation 
and horror through the religious public, the subtle 
and caustic style, and the epigrams with which the 
book was strewn, forced both the religious and irre- 
ligious public to read, whether they would or no. A 
storm of controversy rose round the volumes, and 
some of the keenest observers of English life had said 
at the time, and maintained since, that the publication 
of the book had made or marked an epoch. 

Robert had lit on those pages in the Essay on the 
Gospels where the squire fell to analysing the evidence 
for the Resurrection, following up his analysis by an 
attempt at reconstructing the conditions out of which 
the belief in ' the legend ' arose. Robert began to read 
vaguely at first, then to hurry on through page after 
page, still standing, seized at once by the bizarre power 
of the style, the audacity and range of the treatment. 

Not a sound in the house. Outside, the tossing 
moaning December night ; inside, the faintly crackling 
fire, the standing figure. Suddenly it was to Robert 
as though a cruel torturing hand were laid upon his 
inmost being. His breath failed him ; the book slipped 
[ 502 ] 


out of his grasp; he sank down upon his chair, his 
head in his hands. Oh, what a desolate intolerable 
moment! Over the young idealist soul there swept 
a dry destroying whirlwind of thought. Elements 
gathered from all sources from his own historical 
work, from the squire's book, from the secret half- 
conscious recesses of the mind entered into it, and 
as it passed it seemed to scorch the heart. 

He stayed bowed there a while, then he roused him- 
self with a half-groan, and hastily extinguishing his 
lamp he groped his way upstairs to his wife's room. 
Catherine lay asleep. The child, lost among its white 
coverings, slept too ; there was a dim light over the bed, 
the books, the pictures. Beside his wife's pillow was 
a table on which there lay open her little Testament 
and the ' Imitation ' her father had given her. Elsmere 
sank down beside her, appalled by the contrast be- 
tween this soft religious peace and that black agony 
of doubt which still overshadowed him. He knelt 
there, restraining his breath lest it should wake her, 
wrestling piteously with himself, crying for pardon, 
for faith, feeling himself utterly unworthy to touch 
even the dear hand that lay so near him. But gradu- 
ally the traditional forces of his life reasserted them- 
selves. The horror lifted. Prayer brought comfort 
and a passionate healing self-abasement. 'Master, 
forgive defend purify/ cried the aching heart. 
' There is none other that fighteth for us, but only Thou, 

He did not open the book again. Next morning 
he put it back into his shelves. If there were any 
Christian who could affront such an antagonist with 
[ 503 ] 


a light heart, he felt with a shudder of memory it 
was not he. 

'I have neither learning nor experience enough 

- yet/ he said to himself slowly as he moved away; 
'of course it can be met, but / must grow, must think 

- first/ 

And of that night's wrestle he said not a word to any 
living soul. He did penance for it in the tenderest, 
most secret ways, but he shrank in misery from the 
thought of revealing it even to Catherine. 


MEANWHILE the poor poisoned folk at Mile End lived 
and apparently throve, in defiance of all the laws of 
the universe. Robert, as soon as he found that radical 
measures were for the time hopeless, had applied him- 
self with redoubled energy to making the people use 
such palliatives as were within their reach, and had 
preached boiled water and the removal of filth till, as 
he declared to Catherine, his dreams were one long 
sanitary nightmare. But he was not confiding enough 
to believe that the people paid much heed, and he 
hoped more from a dry hard winter than from any 
exertion either of his or theirs. 

But, alas! with the end of November a season of 
furious rain set in. 

Then Robert began to watch Mile End with anxiety, 
for so far every outbreak of illness there had followed 
upon unusual damp. But the rains passed, leaving 
behind them no worse results than the usual winter 
crop of lung ailments and rheumatism, and he 
breathed again. 

Christmas came and went, and with the end of 
December the wet weather returned. Day after day 
rolling masses of southwest cloud came up from the 
Atlantic and wrapped the whole country in rain, which 
reminded Catherine of her Westmoreland rain more 
than any she had yet seen in the South. Robert ac- 
cused her of liking it for that reason, but she shook her 
[ 505 1 


head with a sigh, declaring that it was 'nothing with- 
out the becks/ 

One afternoon she was shutting the door of the 
school behind her, and stepping out on the road skirt- 
ing the green the bedabbled wintry green when 
she saw Robert emerging 'from the Mile End lane. 
She crossed over to him, wondering as she neared him 
that he seemed to take no notice of her. He was 
striding along, his wideawake over his eyes, and so 
absorbed that she had almost touched him before he 
saw her. 

' Darling, is that you? Don't stop me, I am going to 
take the pony-carriage in for Meyrick. I have just 
come back from that accursed place; three cases of 
diphtheria in one house, Sharland's wife and two 
others down with fever/ 

She made a horrified exclamation. 

'It will spread/ he said gloomily, 'I know it will. I 
never saw the children look such a ghastly crew be- 
fore. Well, I must go for Meyrick and a nurse, and we 
must isolate and make a fight for it/ 

In a few days the diphtheria epidemic in the hamlet 
had reached terrible proportions. There had been one 
death, others were expected, and soon Robert in his 
brief hours at home could find no relief in anything, so 
heavy was the oppression of the day's memories. At 
first Catherine for the child's sake kept away; but the 
little Mary was weaned, had a good Scotch nurse, was 
in every way thriving, and after a day or two Cather- 
ine's craving to help, to be with Robert in his trouble, 
was too strong to be withstood. But she dared not go 
backwards and forwards between her baby and the 
[ 506 ] 


diphtheritic children. So she bethought herself of 
Mrs. Elsmere's servant, old Martha, who was still in- 
habiting Mrs. Elsmere's cottage till a tenant could be 
found for it, and doing good service meanwhile as an 
occasional parish nurse. The baby and its nurse went 
over to the cottage. Catherine carried the child there, 
wrapped close in maternal arms, and leaving her on 
old Martha's lap, went back to Robert. 

Then she and he devoted themselves to a hand- 
to-hand fight with the epidemic. At the climax of 
it there were about twenty children down with it in 
different stages, and seven cases of fever. They had 
two hospital nurses ; one of the better cottages, turned 
into a sanatorium, accommodated the worst cases 
under the nurses, and Robert and Catherine, directed 
by them and the doctors, took the responsibility of 
the rest, he helping to nurse the boys and she the girls. 
Of the fever cases Sharland's wife was the worst. A 
feeble creature at all times, it seemed almost impos- 
sible she could weather through. But day after day 
passed, and by dint of incessant nursing she still lived. 
A youth of twenty, the main support of a mother and 
five or six younger children, was also desperately ill. 
Robert hardly ever had him out of his thoughts, and 
the boy's dog-like affection for the rector, struggling 
with his deathly weakness, was like a perpetual ex- 
emplification of Ahriman and Ormuzd the power 
of life struggling with the power of death. 

It was a fierce fight. Presently it seemed to the 

husband and wife as though the few daily hours spent 

at the rectory were mere halts between successive acts 

of battle with the plague-fiend a more real and grim 

[ 507 ] 


Grendel of the Marshes for the lives of children. 
Catherine could always sleep in these intervals, qui- 
etly and dreamlessly; Robert very soon could only 
sleep by the help of some prescription of old Meyrick's. 
On all occasions of strain since his boyhood there had 
been signs in him of a certain lack of constitutional 
hardness which his mother knew very well, but which 
his wife was only just beginning to recognise. How- 
ever, he laughed to scorn any attempt to restrain his 
constant goings and comings, or those hours of night- 
nursing, in which, as the hospital nurses were the first 
to admit, no one was so successful as the rector. And 
when he stood up on Sundays to preach in Murewell 
Church, the worn and spiritual look of the man, and 
the knowledge warm at each heart of those before him 
of how the rector not only talked but lived, carried 
every word home. 

The strain upon all the moral and physical forces, 
however, strangely enough, came to Robert as a kind 
of relief. It broke through a tension of brain which of 
late had become an oppression. And for both him and 
Catherine these dark times had moments of intensest 
joy, points of white light illuminating heaven and 
earth. There were cloudy nights wet, stormy Janu- 
ary nights when sometimes it happened to them to 
come back both together from the hamlet, Robert 
carrying a lantern, Catherine clothed in waterproof 
from head to foot, walking beside him, the rays flash- 
ing now on her face, now on the wooded sides of the 
lane, while the wind howled through the dark vault of 
branches overhead. And then, as they talked or were 
silent, suddenly a sense of the intense blessedness of 
[ 508 ] 


this comradeship of theirs would rise like a flood in the 
man's heart, and he would fling his free arm round her, 
forcing her to stand a moment in the January night 
and storm while he said to her words of passionate 
gratitude, of faith in an immortal union reaching be- 
yond change or death, lost in a kiss which was a sac- 
rament. Then there were the moments when they saw 
their child, held high in Martha's arms at the window, 
and leaping towards her mother; the moments when 
one pallid sickly being after another was pronounced 
out of danger; and by the help of them the weeks 
passed away. 

Nor were they left without help from outside. Lady 
Helen Varley no sooner heard the news than she 
hurried over. Robert, on his way one morning from 
one cottage to another, saw her pony-carriage in the 
lane. He hastened up to her before she could dis- 

'No, Lady Helen, you must n't come here/ he said 
to her peremptorily, as she held out her hand. 

'Oh, Mr. Elsmere, let me. My boy is in town with 
his grandmother. Let me just go through, at any rate, 
and see what I can send you.' 

Robert shook his head, smiling. A common friend 
of theirs and hers had once described this little lady to 
Elsmere by a French sentence which originally applied 
to the Duchesse de Choiseul. 'line charmante petite 
fee sortie d'un oeuf enchante ! ' so it ran. Certainly, 
as Elsmere looked down upon her now, fresh from those 
squalid death-stricken hovels behind him, he was 
brought more abruptly than ever upon the contrasts 
of life. Lady Helen wore a green velvet and fur mantle, 
[ 509 ] 


in the production of which even Worth had felt some 
pride ; a little green velvet bonnet perched on her fair 
hair; one tiny hand, ungloved, seemed ablaze with 
diamonds ; there were opals and diamonds somewhere 
at her throat, gleaming among her sables. But she 
wore her jewels as carelessly as she wore her high 
birth, her quaint irregular prettiness, or the one or 
two brilliant gifts which made her sought after wher- 
ever she went. She loved her opals as she loved all 
bright things; if it pleased her to wear them in the 
morning, she wore them ; and in five minutes she was 
capable of making the sourest puritan forget to frown 
on her and them. To Robert she always seemed the 
quintessence of breeding, of aristocracy, at their best. 
All her freaks, her sallies, her absurdities even, were 
graceful. At her freest and gayest there were things in 
her restraints, reticences, perceptions which im- 
plied behind her generations of rich, happy, important 
people, with ample leisure to cultivate all the more 
delicate niceties of social feeling and relation. Robert 
was often struck by the curious differences between 
her and Rose. Rose was far the handsomer ; she was 
at least as clever ; and she had a strong imperious will 
where Lady Helen had only impulses and sympathies 
and engouements. But Rose belonged to the class 
which struggles, where each individual depends on 
himself and knows it. Lady Helen had never struggled 
for anything all the best things of the world were 
hers so easily that she hardly gave them a thought; 
or rather, what she had gathered without pain she 
held so lightly, she dispensed so lavishly, that men's 
eyes followed her, fluttering through life, with much 
[ 510 ] 


the same feeling as was struck from dough's radical 
hero by the peerless Lady Maria - 

'Live, be lovely, forget us, be beautiful, even to proudness, 
Even for their poor sakes whose happiness is to behold you; 
Live, be uncaring, be joyous, be sumptuous; only be lovely 1 ' 

'Uncaring/ however, little Lady Helen never was. 
If she was a fairy, she was a fairy all heart, all frank 
foolish smiles and tears. 

'No, Lady Helen no/ Robert said again. 'This 
is no place for you, and we are getting on capitally/ 

She pouted a little. 

'I believe you and Mrs. Elsmere are just killing 
yourselves all in a corner, with no one to see/ she said 
indignantly. 'If you won't let me see, I shall send Sir 
Harry. But who' - and her brown fawn's eyes ran 
startled over the cottages before her 'who, Mr. 
Elsmere, does this dreadful place belong to?' 

'Mr. Wendover/ said Robert shortly. 

'Impossible!' she cried incredulously. 'Why, I 
would n't ask one of my dogs to sleep there/ and she 
pointed to the nearest hovel, whereof the walls were 
tottering outwards, the thatch was falling to pieces, 
and the windows were mended with anything that 
came handy rags, paper, or the crown of an old hat. 

'No, you would be ill advised/ said Robert, looking 
with a bitter little smile at the sleek dachshund that 
sat blinking beside its mistress. 

'But what is the agent about?' 

Then Robert told her the story, not mincing his 
words. Since the epidemic had begun, all that sense 
of imaginative attraction which had been reviving in 
[ 511 ] 


him towards the squire had been simply blotted out 
by a fierce heat of indignation. When he thought of 
Mr. Wendover now, he thought of him as the man 
to whom in strict truth it was owing that helpless 
children died in choking torture. All that agony of 
wrath and pity he had gone through in the last ten 
days sprang to his lips now as he talked to Lady Helen, 
and poured itself into his words. 

' Old Meyrick and I have taken things into our own 
hands now/ he said at last briefly. 'We have already 
made two cottages fairly habitable. To-morrow the 
inspector comes. I told the people yesterday I 
would n't be bound by my promise a day longer. He 
must put the screw on Henslowe, and if Henslowe 
dawdles, why we shall just drain and repair and sink 
for a well ourselves. I can find the money somehow. 
At present we get all our water from one of the farms 
on the brow/ 

'Money!' said Lady Helen impulsively, her looks 
warm with sympathy for the pale harassed young rec- 
tor. 'Sir Harry shall send you as much as you want. 
And anything else blankets coals?' 

Out came her note-book, and Robert was drawn 
into a list. Then, full of joyfulness at being allowed to 
help, she gathered up her reins, she nodded her pretty 
little head at him, and was just starting off her ponies 
at full speed, equally eager 'to tell Harry' and to ran- 
sack Churton for the stores required, when it occurred 
to her to pull up again. 

'Oh, Mr. Elsmere, my aunt, Lady Charlotte, does 
nothing but talk about your sister-in-law. Why did 
you keep her all to yourself? Is it kind, is it neigh- 
[ 512 ] 


bourly, to have such a wonder to stay with you and 
let nobody share?' 

'A wonder?' said Robert, amused. 'Rose plays the 
violin very well, but ' 

'As if relations ever saw one in proper perspective ! ' 
exclaimed Lady Helen. ' My aunt wants to be allowed 
to have her in town next season if you will all let her. 
I think she would find it fun. Aunt Charlotte knows 
all the world and his wife. And if I 'm there, and Miss 
Leyburn will let me make friends with her, why, you 
know, / can just protect her a little from Aunt Char- 

Next day Sir Harry Varley, a great burly country 
squire, who adored his wife, kept the hounds, owned a 
model estate, and thanked God every morning that he 
was an Englishman, rode over to Mile End. Robert, 
who had just been round the place with the inspector 
and was dead tired, had only energy to show him a few 
of the worst enormities. Sir Harry, leaving a cheque 
behind him, rode off with a discharge of strong lan- 
guage, at which Robert, clergyman as he was, only 
grimly smiled. 

A few days later Mr. Wendover's crimes as a land- 
owner, his agent's brutality, young Elsmere's devo- 
tion, and the horrors of the Mile End outbreak, were 
in everybody's mouths. The county was roused. The 
Radical newspaper came out on the Saturday with a 
flaming article ; Robert, much to his annoyance, found 
himself the local hero ; and money began to come in 
to him freely. 

On the Monday morning Henslowe appeared on the 
scene with an army of workmen. A racy communica- 
[ 513 ] 


tion from the inspector had reached him two days 
before, so had a copy of the Churton Advertiser. He 
had spent Sunday in a drinking-bout, turning over all 
possible plans of vengeance and evasion. Towards the 
evening, however, his wife, a gaunt clever Scotch- 
woman, who saw ruin before them, and had on occa- 
sion an even sharper tongue than her husband, man- 
aged- to capture the supplies of brandy in the house 
and effectually conceal them. Then she waited for the 
moment of collapse which came on towards morning, 
and with her hands on her hips she poured into him a 
volley of home-truths which not even Sir Harry Varley 
could have bettered. Henslowe's nerve gave way. He 
went out at daybreak, white and sullen, to look for 

Robert, standing on the step of a cottage, watched 
him give his orders, and took vigilant note of their sub- 
stance. They embodied the inspector's directions, and 
the rector was satisfied. Henslowe was obliged to pass 
him on his way to another group of houses. At first 
he affected not to see the rector, then suddenly Els- 
mere was conscious that the man's bloodshot eyes 
were on him. Such a look ! If hate could have killed, 
Elsmere would have fallen where he stood. Yet the 
man's hand mechanically moved to his hat, as though 
the spell of his wife's harangue were still potent over 
his shaking muscles. 

Robert took no notice whatever of the salutation. 
He stood calmly watching till Henslowe disappeared 
into the last house. Then he called one of the agent's 
train, heard what was to be done, gave a sharp nod of 
assent, and turned on his heel. So far so good : the 
[ 514 ] 


servant had been made to feel, but he wished it had 
been the master. Oh, those three little emaciated 
creatures whose eyes he had closed, whose clammy 
hands he had held to the last ! what reckoning 
should be asked for their undeserved torments when 
the Great Account came to be made up? 

Meanwhile not a sound apparently of all this reached 
the squire in the sublime solitude of Murewell. A fort- 
night had passed. Henslowe had been conquered, the 
county had rushed to Elsmere's help, and neither he 
nor Mrs. Darcy had made a sign. Their life was so 
abnormal that it was perfectly possible they had 
heard nothing. Elsmere wondered when they would 

The rector's chief help and support all through had 
been old Meyrick. The parish doctor had been in bed 
with rheumatism when the epidemic broke out, and 
Robert, feeling it a comfort to be rid of him, had : 
thrown the whole business into the hands of Meyrick 
and his son. This son was nominally his father's junior 
partner, but as he was, besides, a young and brilliant 
M.D. fresh from a great hospital, and his father was. 
just a poor old general practitioner, with the barest 
qualification, and only forty years' experience to 
recommend him, it will easily be imagined that the 
subordination was purely nominal. Indeed young 
Meyrick was fast ousting his father in all directions, 
and the neighbourhood, which had so far found itself 
unable either to enter or to quit this mortal scene 
without old Meyrick 's assistance, was beginning to 
send notes to the house in Churton High Street, 
whereon the superscription 'Dr. Edward Meyrick' 
[ 515 ] 


was underlined with ungrateful emphasis. The father 
took his deposition very quietly. Only on Murewell 
Hall would he allow no trespassing, and so long as his 
son left him undisturbed there, he took his effacement 
in other quarters with perfect meekness. 

Young Elsmere's behaviour to him, however, at a 
time when all the rest of the Churton world was begin- 
ning to hold him cheap and let him see it, had touched 
the old man's heart, and he was the rector's slave in 
this Mile End business. Edward Meyrick would come 
whirling in and out of the hamlet once a day. Robert 
was seldom sorry to see the back of him. His attain- 
ments, of course, were useful, but his cocksureness 
was irritating, and his manner to his father abomin- 
able. The father, on the other hand, came over in the 
shabby pony-cart he had driven for the last forty 
years, and having himself no press of business, would 
spend hours with the rector over the cases, giving them 
;an infinity of patient watching, and amusing Robert 
by the cautious hostility he would allow himself every 
now and then towards his son's new-fangled devices. 

At first Meyrick showed himself fidgety as to the 
squire. Had he been seen, been heard from? He re- 
ceive'd Robert's sharp negatives with long sighs, but 
Robert clearly saw that, like the rest of the world, he 
was too much afraid of Mr. Wendover to go and beard 
him. Some months before, as it happened, Elsmere 
had told him the story of his encounter with the squire, 
and had been a good deal moved and surprised by the 
old man's concern. 

One day, about three weeks from the beginning of 
the outbreak, when the state of things in the hamlet 
[ 516 ] 


was beginning decidedly to mend, Meyrick arrived for 
his morning round, much preoccupied. He hurried his 
work a little, and after it was done asked Robert to 
walk up the road with him. 

'I have seen the squire, sir/ he said, turning on his 
companion with a certain excitement. 

Robert flushed. 

'Have you?' he replied, with his hands behind him, 
and a world of expression in his sarcastic voice. 

'You misjudge him! You misjudge him, Mr. Els- 
mere ! ' the old man said tremulously. ' I told you he 
could know nothing of this business and he did n't ! 
He has been in town part of the time, and down here 
how is he to know any thing? He sees nobody. That 
man Henslowe, sir, must be a real bad fellow/ 

'Don't abuse the man,' said Robert, looking up. 
'It's not worth while, when you can say your mind of 
the master/ 

Old Meyrick sighed. 

'Well/ said Robert, after a moment, his lip drawn 
and quivering, 'you told him the story, I suppose? 
Seven deaths, is it> by now? Well, what sort of im- 
pression did these unfortunate accidents '-- and he 
smiled 'produce?' 

' He talked of sending money/ said Meyrick doubt- 
fully ; ' he said he would have Henslowe up and inquire. 
He seemed put about and annoyed. Oh, Mr. Elsmere, 
you think too hardly of the squire, that you do ! ' 

They strolled on together in silence. Robert was 
not inclined to discuss the matter. But old Meyrick 
seemed to be labouring under some suppressed emo- 
tion, and presently he began upon his own experiences, 
[ 517 ] 


as a doctor, of the Wendover family. He had already 
broached the subject more or less vaguely with Robert. 
Now, however, he threw his medical reserve, generally 
his strongest characteristic, to the winds. He insisted 
on telling his companion, who listened reluctantly, 
the whole miserable and 'ghastly story of the old 
squire's suicide. He described the heir's summons, his 
arrival just in time for the last scene with all its hor- 
rors, and that mysterious condition of the squire for 
some months afterwards, when no one, not even Mrs. 
Darcy, had been admitted to the Hall, and old Mey- 
rick, directed at intervals by a great London doctor, 
had been the only spectator of Roger Wendover's 
physical and mental breakdown, the only witness of 
that dark consciousness of inherited fatality which at 
that period of his life not even the squire's iron will 
had been able wholly to conceal. 

Robert, whose attention was inevitably roused after 
a while, found himself with some curiosity realising 
the squire from another man's totally different point 
of view. Evidently Meyrick had seen him at such 
moments as wring from the harshest nature whatever 
grains of tenderness, of pity, or of natural human 
weakness may be in it. And it was clear, too, that the 
squire, conscious perhaps of a shared secret, and feeling 
a certain soothing influence in the naivet and simplic- 
ity of the old man's sympathy, had allowed himself at 
times, in the years succeeding that illness of his, an 
amount of unbending in Meyrick 's presence, such as 
probably no other mortal had ever witnessed in him 
since his earliest youth. 

And yet how childish the old man's whole mental 
[ 518 ] 


image of the squire was after all ! What small account 
it made of the subtleties, the gnarled intricacies and 
contradictions of such a character! Horror at his 
father's end, and dread of a like fate for himself! 
Robert did not know very much of the squire, but he 
knew enough to feel sure that this confiding indulgent 
theory of Meyrick's was ludicrously far from the mark 
as an adequate explanation of Mr. Wendover's later 

Presently Meyrick became aware of the sort of tacit 
resistance which his companion's mind was opposing 
to his own. He dropped the wandering narrative he 
was busy upon with a sigh. 

' Ah well, I dare say it 's hard, it 's hard/ he said with 
patient acquiescence in his voice, 'to believe a man 
can't help himself. I dare say -we doctors get to muddle 
up right and wrong. But if ever there was a man sick 
in mind for all his book-learning they talk about 
and sick in soul, that man is the squire/ 

Robert looked at him with a softer expression. 
There was a new dignity about the simple old man. 
The old-fashioned deference, which had never let him 
forget in speaking to Robert that he was speaking to 
a man of family, and which showed itself in all sorts of 
antiquated locutions which were a torment to his son, 
had given way to something still more deeply in- 
grained. His gaunt figure, with the stoop, and the 
spectacles and the long straight hair like the figure 
of a superannuated schoolmaster assumed, as he 
turned again to his younger companion, something of 
authority, something almost of stateliness. 

'Ah, Mr. Elsmere/ he said, laying his shrunk hand 
[ 519 ] 


on the younger man's sleeve and speaking with emo- 
tion, 'you're very good to the poor. We're all proud 
of you you and your good lady. But when you were 
coming, and I heard tell all about you, I thought of my 
poor squire, and I said to myself, "That young man '11 
be good to him. The squire will make friends with him, 
and Mr. Elsmere will have a good wife, and there'll 
be children born to him and the squire will take an 
interest and and maybe - 

The old man paused. Robert grasped his hand 

'And there was something in the way between you/ 
the speaker went on, sighing. ' I dare say you were 
quite right quite right. I can't judge. Only there 
are ways of doing a thing. And it was a last chance ; 
and now it 's missed it's missed. Ah! it's no good 
talking; he has a heart he has! Many's the kind 
thing he's done in old days for me and mine I'll 
never forget them ! But all these last few years oh, 
I know, I know. You can't go and shut your heart up, 
and fly in the face of all the duties the Lord laid on you, 
without losing yourself and setting the Lord against 
you. But it 's pitiful, Mr. Elsmere, it 's pitiful ! ' 

It seemed to Robert suddenly as though there was 
a Divine breath passing through the wintry lane and 
through the shaking voice of the old man. Beside the 
spirit looking out of those wrinkled eyes, his own hot 
youth, its justest resentments, its most righteous 
angers, seemed crude, harsh, inexcusable. 

' Thank you, Meyrick, thank you, and God bless you ! 
Don't imagine I will forget a word you have said to 

I 520 ] 


The rector shook the hand he held warmly twice 
over, a gentle smile passed over Meyrick's ageing face, 
and they parted. 

That night it fell to Robert to sit up after midnight 
with John Allwood, the youth of twenty whose case 
had been a severer tax on the powers of the little nurs- 
ing staff than perhaps any other. Mother and neigh- 
bours were worn out, and it was difficult to spare a 
hospital nurse for long together from the diphtheria 
cases. Robert, therefore, had insisted during the pre- 
ceding week on taking alternate nights with one of the 
nurses. During the first hours before midnight he 
slept soundly on a bed made up in the ground-floor 
room of the little sanatorium. Then at twelve the 
nurse called him, and he went out, his eyes still heavy 
with sleep, into a still frosty winter's night. 

After so much rain, so much restlessness of wind and 
cloud, the silence and the starry calm of it were in- 
finitely welcome. The sharp cold air cleared his brain 
and braced his nerves, and by the time he reached the 
cottage whither he was bound, he was broad awake. 
He opened the door softly, passed through the lower 
room, crowded with sleeping children, climbed the 
narrow stairs as noiselessly as possible, and found him- 
self in a garret, faintly lit, a bed in one corner and a 
woman sitting beside it. The woman glided away, the 
rector looked carefully at the table of instructions 
hanging over the bed, assured himself that wine and 
milk and beef essence and medicines were ready to his 
hand, put out his watch on the wooden table near the 
bed, and sat him down to his task. The boy was sleep- 
ing the sleep of weakness. Food was to be given every 


half -hour, and in this perpetual impulse to the system 
lay his only chance. 

The rector had his Greek Testament with him, and 
could just read it by the help of the dim light. But 
after a while, as the still hours passed on, it dropped on 
to his knee, and he sat thinking endlessly thinking. 
The young labourer lay motionless beside him, the 
lines of the long emaciated frame showing through the 
bed-clothes. The night-light flickered on the broken 
discoloured ceiling; every now and then a mouse 
scratched in the plaster ; the mother's heavy breathing 
came from the next room ; sometimes a dog barked or 
an owl cried outside. Otherwise deep silence, such 
silence as drives the soul back upon itself. 

Elsmere was conscious of a strange sense of moral 
expansion. The stern judgements, the passionate con- 
demnations which his nature housed so painfully, 
seemed lifted from it. The soul breathed an 'ampler 
sether, a diviner air/ Oh! the mysteries of life and 
character, the subtle inexhaustible claims of pity! 
The problems which hang upon our being here; its 
mixture of elements; the pressure of its inexorable 
physical environment ; the relations of mind to body, 
of man's poor will to this tangled tyrannous life it 
was along these old, old lines his thought went pain- 
fully groping ; and always at intervals it came back to 
the squire, pondering, seeking to understand, a new 
soberness, a new humility and patience entering in. 

And yet it was not Meyrick's facts exactly that had 
brought this about. Robert thought them imperfect, 
only half true. Rather was it the spirit of love, of in- 
finite forbearance in which the simpler, duller nature 


had declared itself that had appealed to him, nay, 
reproached him. 

Then these thoughts led him on farther and farther 
from man to God, from human defect to the Eternal 
Perfectness. Never once during those hours did Els- 
mere's hand fail to perform its needed service to the 
faint sleeper beside him, and yet that night was one 
long dream and strangeness to him, nothing real any- 
where but consciousness, and God its source ; the soul 
attacked every now and then by phantom stabs of 
doubt, of bitter brief misgiving, as the barriers of sense 
between it and the eternal enigma grew more and more 
transparent, wrestling a while, and then prevailing. 
And each golden moment of certainty, of conquering 
faith, seemed to Robert in some sort a gift from Cath- 
erine's hand. It was she who led him through the 
shades ; it was her voice murmuring in his ear. 

When the first grey dawn began to creep in slowly 
perceptible waves into the room, Elsmere felt as 
though not hours but years of experience lay between 
him and the beginnings of his watch. 

'It is by these moments we should date our lives,' 
he murmured to himself as he rose; 'they are the only 
real landmarks/ 

It was eight o'clock, and the nurse who was to re- 
lieve him had come. The results of the night for his 
charge were good : the strength had been maintained, 
the pulse was firmer, the temperature lower. The boy, 
throwing off his drowsiness, lay watching the rector's 
face as he talked in an undertone to the nurse, his 
haggard eyes full of a dumb friendly wistfulness. 
When Robert bent over him to say good-bye, this 
[ 523 ] 


expression brightened into something more positive, 
and Robert left him, feeling at last that there was a 
promise of life in his look and touch. 

In another moment he had stepped out into the 
January morning. It was clear and still as the night 
had been. In the east there was a pale promise of sun ; 
the reddish-brown trunks of the fir woods had just 
caught it, and rose faintly glowing in endless vistas 
and colonnades one behind the other. The flooded 
river itself rushed through the bridge as full and turbid 
as before, but all the other water surfaces had gleaming 
films of ice. The whole ruinous place had a clean, al- 
most a festal air under the touch of the frost, while on 
the side of the hill leading to Murewell, tree rose above 
tree, the delicate network of their wintry twigs and 
branches set against stretches of frost-whitened grass, 
till finally they climbed into the pale all -completing 
blue. In a copse close at hand there were woodcutters 
at work, and piles of gleaming laths shining through 
the underwood. Robins hopped along the frosty 
road, and as he walked on through the houses towards 
the bridge, Robert's quick ear distinguished that most 
wintry of all sounds - the cry of a flock of fieldfares 
passing overhead. 

As he neared the bridge he suddenly caught sight 
of a figure upon it, the figure of a man wrapped in a 
large Inverness cloak, leaning against the stone para- 
pet. With a start he recognised the squire. 

He went up to him without an instant's slackening 
of his steady step. The squire heard the sound of some 
one coming, turned, and saw the rector. 

'I am glad to see you here, Mr. Wendover/ said 
[ 524 ] 


Robert, stopping and holding out his hand. 'I meant 
to have come to talk to you about this place this 
morning. I ought to have come before/ 

He spoke gently, and quite simply, almost as if they 
had parted the day before. The squire touched his 
hand for an instant. 

'You may not, perhaps, be aware, Mr. Elsmere/ he 
said, endeavouring to speak with all his old hauteur, 
while his heavy lips twitched nervously, 'that, for one 
reason and another, I knew nothing of the epidemic 
here till yesterday, when Meyrick told me/ 

' I heard from Mr. Meyrick that it was so. As you 
are here now, Mr. Wendover, and I am in no great 
hurry to get home, may I take you through and show 
you the people?' 

The squire at last looked at him. straight at the 
face worn and pale, yet still so extraordinarily youth- 
ful, in which something of the solemnity and high 
emotion of the night seemed to be still lingering. 

'Are you just come?' he said abruptly, 'or are you 
going back?' 

'I have been here through the night, sitting up with 
one of the fever cases. It's hard work for the nurses, 
and the relations sometimes, without help.' 

The squire moved on mechanically towards the vil- 
lage, and Robert moved beside him. 

'And Mrs. Elsmere?' 

' Mrs. Elsmere was here most of yesterday. She used 
to stay the night when the diphtheria was at its worst ; 
but there are only four anxious cases left the rest 
all convalescent.' 

The squire said no more, and they turned into the 
[ 525 ] 


lane, where the ice lay thick in the deep ruts, and on 
either hand curls of smoke rose into the clear cold sky. 
The squire looked about him with eyes which no detail 
escaped. Robert, without a word of comment, pointed 
out this feature and that, showed where Henslowe had 
begun repairs, where the new well was to be, what 
the water-supply had been till now, drew the squire's 
attention to the roofs, the pig-styes, the drainage, or 
rather complete absence of drainage, and all in the dry 
voice of some one going through a catalogue. Word 
had already fled like wildfire through the hamlet that 
the squire was there. Children and adults, a pale 
emaciated crew, poured out into the wintry air to 
look. The squire knit his brows with annoyance as 
the little crowd in the lane grew. Robert took no 

Presently he pushed open the door of the house 
where he had spent the night. In the kitchen a girl 
of sixteen was clearing away the various nondescript 
heaps on which the family had slept, and was prepar- 
ing breakfast. The squire looked at the floor. 

'I thought I understood from Henslowe/ he mut- 
tered, as though to himself, 'that there were no mud 
floors left on the estate ' 

'There are only three houses in Mile End without 
them/ said Robert, catching what he said. 

They went upstairs, and the mother stood open-eyed 
while the squire's restless look gathered in the details 
of the room, the youth's face, as he lay back on his 
pillows, whiter than they, exhausted and yet refreshed 
by the sponging with vinegar and water which the 
mother had just been administering to him ; the bed, 
[ 526 ] 


the gaps in the worm-eaten boards, the spots in the 
roof where the plaster bulged inward, as though a 
shake would bring it down ; the coarse china shepherd- 
esses on the mantel-shelf, and the flowers which Cath- 
erine had put there the day before. He asked a few 
questions, said an abrupt word or two to the mother, 
and they tramped downstairs again and into the street. 
Then Robert took him across to the little improvised 
hospital, saying to him on the threshold, with a mo- 
ment's hesitation, - 

'As you know, for adults there is not much risk, 
but there is always some risk - 

A peremptory movement of the squire's hand 
stopped him, and they went in. In the downstairs 
room were half a dozen convalescents, pale, shadowy 
creatures, four of them under ten, sitting up in their 
little cots, each of them with a red flannel jacket 
drawn from Lady Helen's stores, and enjoying the 
breakfast which a nurse in white cap and apron had 
just brought them. Upstairs, in a room from which 
a lath-and-plaster partition had been removed, and 
which had been adapted, warmed, and ventilated by 
various contrivances to which Robert and Meyrick 
had devoted their practical minds, were the 'four 
anxious cases/ One of them, a little creature of six, 
one of Sharland's black-eyed children, was sitting up, 
supported by the nurse, and coughing its little life 
away. As soon as he saw it, Robert's step quickened. 
He forgot the squire. altogether. He came and stood 
by the bedside, rigidly still, for he could do nothing, 
but his whole soul absorbed in that horrible struggle 
for air. How often he had seen it now, and never with- 
[ 527 ] 


out the same wild sense of revolt and protest ! At last 
the hideous membrane was loosened, the child got 
relief, and lay back white and corpse-like, but with a 
pitiful momentary relaxation of the drawn lines on its 
little brow. Robert stooped and kissed the damp tiny 
hand. The child's eyes remained shut, but the fingers 
made a feeble effort to close on his. 

'Mr. Elsmere/ said the nurse, a motherly body, 
looking at him with friendly admonition, 'if you don't 
go home and rest you'll be ill too, and I'd like to know 
who'll be the better for that?' 

'How many deaths?' asked the squire abruptly, 
touching Elsmere's arm, and so reminding Robert of 
his existence. 'Meyrick spoke of deaths.' 

He stood near the door, but his eyes were fixed on 
the little bed, on the half -swooning child. 

'Seven,' said Robert, turning upon him. 'Five of 
diphtheria, two of fever. That little one will go too/ 

' Horrible ! ' said the squire under his breath, and 
then moved to the door. 

The two men went downstairs in perfect silence. 
Below, in the convalescent room, the children were 
capable of smiles, and of quick coquettish beckonings 
to the rector to come and make game with them as 
usual. But he could only kiss his hand to them and 
escape, for there was more to do. 

He took the squire through all the remaining fever 
cases, and into several of the worst cottages Mil- 
som's among them and when it was all over they 
emerged into the lane again, near the bridge. There 
was still a crowd of children and women hanging 
about, watching eagerly for the squire, whom many 
[ 528 ] 


of them had never seen at all, and about whom vari- 
ous myths had gradually formed themselves in the 
countryside. The squire walked away from them hur- 
riedly, followed by Robert, and again they halted on 
the centre of the bridge. A horse led by a groom was 
being walked up and down on a flat piece of road just 

It was an awkward moment. Robert never forgot 
the thrill of it, or the association of wintry sunshine 
streaming down upon a sparkling world of ice and 
delicate woodland and foam-flecked river. 

The squire turned towards him irresolutely; his 
sharply-cut wrinkled lips opening and closing again. 
Then he held out his hand : ' Mr. Elsmere, I did you 
a wrong I did this place and its people a wrong. In 
my view, regret for the past is useless. Much of what 
has occurred here is plainly irreparable; I will think 
what can be done for the future. As for my relatiofi to 
you, it rests with you to say whether it can be amended. 
I recognise that you have just cause of complaint/ 

What invincible pride there was in the man's very 
surrender! But Elsmere was not repelled by it. He 
knew that in their hour together the squire had felt. 
His soul had lost its bitterness. The dead and their 
wrong were with God. 

He took the squire's outstretched hand, grasping it 
cordially, a pure unworldly dignity in his whole look 
and bearing. 

' Let us be friends, Mr. Wendover. It will be a great 
comfort to us my wife and me. Will you remember 
us both very kindly to Mrs. Darcy?' 

Commonplace words, but words that made an epoch 
[ 529 ] 


in the life of both. In another minute the squire, on 
horseback, was trotting along the side-road leading to 
the Hall, and Robert was speeding home to Catherine 
as fast as his long legs could carry him. 

She was waiting for him on the steps, shading her 
eyes against the unwonted, sun. He kissed her with 
the spirits of a boy and told her all his news. 

Catherine listened bewildered, not knowing what to 
say or how all at once to forgive, to join Robert in 
forgetting. But that strange spiritual glow about him 
was not to be withstood. She threw her arms about 
him at last with a half -sob, 

' Oh, Robert yes ! Dear Robert thank God ! ' 

'Never think any more,' he said at last, leading her 
in from the little hall, ' of what has been, only of what 
shall be ! Oh, Catherine, give me some tea ; and never 
did I see anything so tempting as that armchair/ 

rfe sank down into it, and when she put his break- 
fast beside him she saw with a start that he was fast 
asleep. The wife stood and watched him, the signs of 
fatigue round eyes and mouth, the placid expression, 
and her face was soft with tenderness and joy. 'Of 
course of course, even that hard man must love 
him. Who could help it? My Robert!' 

And so now in this disguise, now in that, the su- 
preme hour of Catherine's life stole on and on towards 


U . S . A 



Ward, Mary Augusta (Arnold) 

The writings of Mrs. 
Humphry Ward 
c Westmoreland ed.-, 

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